Orkney Sustainable Energy Ltd   www.orkneywind.com


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Spring 2018

Website update

The Orkney Sustainable Energy website has been updated, with the Costa Head film now found on our Youtube channel.  This website also contains a series of short films discussing the Wind Energy Group and the prototype wind turbines that were installed in the early 1980s.  It should be noted that the Orkney LS1 was a 3MW wind turbine, and the UK industry correctly forecast that wind turbines of this scale would be needed to achieve the required level of energy production.


Costa Head Experimental Wind Turbine

Wind Energy Group Part 1

Wind Energy Group Part 2

Wind Energy Group Part 3


January 2016

Hammars Hill Windfarm Press Release

The Hammars Hill windfarm in Orkney has had a record beating year, producing over 20,000 MWh of electricity, equivalent to providing the annual needs of 4000 households. The five turbine windfarm was largely funded by Orcadian investors and is a very successful example of a locally owned and locally managed renewable energy project; Orkney Islands Council, the local authority, is the largest investor. The Hammars Hill project was constructed in 2010 and is located on a hilltop in Mainland Orkney, and the project has been running successfully for over five years, with 2015 proving to be the most productive year to date. The project uses the Enercon E44 900kW wind turbine, and an annual production of 20 GWh from a five turbine windfarm of this scale is a capacity factor greater than 50%; this project is one of the best windfarms of its type in Scotland.  The capacity factor for turbine T2 reached 55% for the year, and it should be noted that this capacity factor is better than most other sources of electricity in the country:


Orkney is a very innovative community, and has been at the forefront of renewable energy from the 1950s, when one of the first prototype wind turbines in the world was installed near to the Hammars Hill development. During the 1980s Orkney was the home of the first large scale turbine in the country, when the 3MW British Aerospace/GEC/Taylor Woodrow turbine was tested on Burgar Hill. This machine proved that large MW scale wind energy was feasible, and the project  was a precursor to the offshore wind turbines now being installed in the seas around the UK. Orkney is now the site for the European Marine Energy Centre, with wave and tidal energy devices being tested in advance of commercial deployment. Innovation continues to be very important to Orkney, and with over 500 wind turbines now in operation across the islands, the Hammars Hill windfarm has been connected to the National Grid via the Orkney ANM, the first smart grid in the country; the project can be restricted if there is too much electricity being produced. Orkney has been a net exporter of renewable electricity to mainland Scotland since 2013.

The Hammars Hill windfarm project was open to investment from individuals and organisations.
Local shareholders provided around half of the funds required to build the project, with a further
£3.8M borrowed at the start of construction in 2010. After five years the project has repaid all bank borrowings and is now providing a strong return to shareholders. The local authority
invested £1M into the development by using funds from the revenue produced from the
flow of oil through the Flotta Oil Terminal in Scapa Flow. The Hammars Hill windfarm is an excellent example of the transformational nature of Island projects in terms of economic growth, sustainability, fuel poverty and transformation to a low carbon economy. It’s not rocket science; you need to build these projects where the wind resource is strongest. Orkney has some of the UK’s best renewable energy resources yet being at the end of the National Grid the Islands face significant challenges in grid capacity constraints and infrastructure developments, underpinned by a regulatory regime that is not helpful. A good electricity grid connection is essential for the long term economic success of the Islands. In view of the current uncertainties around the date and generation capacity of large scale marine energy, there are questions about the timing and requirements for new transmission links. Therefore, securing regulatory approval for new transmission cables must be a priority of both the Scottish and UK Governments. Orkney’s renewable energy sector, although currently constrained by this lack of grid capacity, is now a major part of our economy, supporting jobs, providing community benefit and generating investment, and is key to national environmental ambitions and security of supply.

Autumn 2015


The renewable energy industry across the UK is being strongly penalised by the Conservative government in Westminster, and as a consequence there will be a reduction in wind and solar projects over the coming years.  Short sighted political expediancy has resulted in support for wind and solar projects being severly curtailed, to the extent that there will be no mechanism in place for any scale of onshore wind development in the coming years.  Wind energy in Scotland has been highly successful, with a significant industry created over the last twenty years, however the Westminster government is doing its utmost to stop future projects.  This will have an impact only in the short term, as it is expected that renewable energy will become attractive again once it is realised that fracking and new nuclear in the UK are not going to be succesful.

Our main project this year is the three turbine windfarm being constructed at Easter Melrose, located between Macduff and Gardenstown on the North-east of Scotland. Over the summer the site access track and foundations were established, with the turbines delivered and erected during September.  It should be noted that Enercon E44 500 turbines are being installed, as this site has Class 1 conditions, with predictions of high production levels. All grid work has been completed, and once commissioning is completed it is expected that first generation will occur during November 2015.

Spring 2015


December 2014 to March 2015 proved to be another excellent period for wind energy production, with capacity factors rising above 60% for all our local projects.  The main difficulty has been a series of high energy electric storms, and although there were no direct impacts this winter, the Orkney telephone network was serverely damaged.  Steps have been taken to reduce future potential impacts, with the installation of mobile and radio networks now a priority.

The Hammars Hill project has again proved to be our most productive of developments, and a major miletone has now been reached; after 4 years of generation all remaining debt has now been paid off.  The turbines are expected to provide a significant income stream to shareholders and investors for the remaining years of operation.

The grid connection to Scotland from Orkney remains a major difficulty, with it unlikely that any new projects will be built before 2018.  This year Orkney Sustainable Energy are pleased therefore to be part of the team building a three turbine windfarm at Easter Melrose, located between Macduff and Gardenstown on the North-east of Scotland; this site appears to be one the few Class 1 areas in Aberdeenshire, with predictions of high production levels. First generation is expected to occur before December 2015.


May 2014

The last six months have been some of the most productive experienced in Orkney, with all of our wind energy projects seeing excellent generation figures. This has had the result of Orkney becoming a net exporter of renewable power over the year, producing more electricity than has been used by the community.  This has been achieved by onshore wind turbines, the most cost effective renewable energy source in the UK.  Orkney is a leader in both historic deployment of commercial scale turbines and community scale developments, helped by the innovative Orkney ANM Smart Grid.  It is evident that high levels of renewable energy production are easily achievable, provided efforts are made to upgrade the grid infrastructure across the country. The Orkney wind farms operated particularly well during the first quarter of 2014, with some of the projects reaching monthly capacity factors in excess of 60%.

Orkney is an area that does not normally experience lightning storms, however the winter of 2013 saw a major lightning storm affecting the West Mainland.  Many of the projects were affected, with impact mainly to communications networks.  Wind turbines are designed to accomodate lightning strikes, however the storm in November 2013 was particularly extreme, with damage occuring to a blade of one of the Hammars Hill turbines.  The projects have insurance cover for such an occurance, with repairs finally completed by May 2014.

The Vestas V52 wind turbine on Burray is now into the tenth year of operations at Northfield, and by May 2014 had produced a total of 28,000 MWh.  The project remains an excellent example of a locally-owned, crowd-sourced renewable energy project, and remains the most productive of our turbines, when considering energy produced per MW rating.  Following the months of high energy production, the inspection of the blades of this turbine was completed in the spring, using a remote control video camera, supplied and operated by Orkney Photographic; this is an innovative but practical way of inspecting difficult locations.   


October 2013

The Orkney renewables industry continues to be held back by the lack of a good quality grid.  The Orkney Active Network has been useful as a mechanism for making the most of the exisiting network, however it has become clear that significant improvements are required to allow the existing generators full access to the grid to maximise generation potential.  This restricted access is having a major impact upon the north isles community projects, to the extent that some renewable generators can only produce power when windspeeds are low.  This is clearly unsustainable, and to this end the Hammars Hill project offered to install a 10MW upgrade to the most restricted part of the network.  This met with only a very limited response from Scottish and Southern Energy, with the result that 25MW of wind generation is being routed through cables suitable for 14MW; there will be signifiant impacts upon generators and the Orkney grid if this issue is not resolved.

The UK Government is moving towards establishing a revision of the support system for renewables, with the Contracts for Difference scheme expected to be operational from 2014. This scheme is overly complex, and does not provide the long term support that high capital cost developments such as wind turbines require.  To provide a degree of additional support the governement has proposed that the minimum payment to Island generators should be increased to £115/MWh, and while this is welcome, it should be noted that there is no information on how long the scheme will run, and moreover the CFD scheme is only for projects greater than 5MW; almost all developments in Orkney have been less than 5MW, suggesting an alternative suppport scheme will be required.

March 2013:

Orkney Sustainable Energy continue to have planning success with the onshore wind energy developments, with three projects achieving consent.  We are pleased to report that Orkney Renewable Energy now has planning consent for an Enercon E44 900kW wind turbine, to be positioned behind the village of Orphir, on part of a hill called Akla.  It has taken over a decade to achieve planning in this area, with SNH originally raising concerns regarding possible impacts upon protected bird species; it is a credit to our ecology team that the Akla project can be now be developed.  Nearer to Kirkwall we have also been working with S & JD Robertson on a development of two Enercon E44 wind turbines, to be positioned at Work Farm.  Ecology impacts have not been a concern at this location, as the area is largely farmland, however the development is relativly close to Orkney's largest population centre.  Significant impacts upon residents of Kirkwall are not expected, nevertheless the project will become a distinctive focal point, with the turbines marking the entrance to Kirkwall harbour for shipping arriving from the east.  Further afield we can also report planning success with the Easter Melrose project.  This development is located on elevated land between Macduff and Gamrie in Aberdeenshire, and consists of three 900kW wind turbines, located upon one of the few Class 1 wind development areas in the north-east of Scotland.  With all of these developments Orkney Sustainable Energy has been responsible for project design, environmental assessment and the planning process, and in each case we are now working towards establishing the developments; we have a long term management role during construction and operation.

Renewable energy continues to be an important part of the Orkney economy, and over the winter of 2012 and 2013, the Orkney wind energy projects have been performing exceptionally strongly; Orkney is now a net exporter of renewable electricity.  As a  consequence has been a review of the operations of the Orkney Active Network, with parts of the local grid nearing capacity.  It is to be hoped that further deployment of wind turbines will be permitted in some areas of the Orkney grid, particularly as the new undersea cable to Orkney will not be available before 2018.

October 2012:

Orkney Sustainable Energy have achieved planning success with the Rumster Community Wind Farm.  This development will consist of three 900kW size turbines, and will provide renewable energy for the Lybster community in Caithness.  The project was taken forward by the Latheron, Lybster and Clyth Community Development Company, with Orkney Sustainable Energy responsible for all planning and environmental assessment.  The project has applied for a grid connection, and provided everything can be completed on schedule, it is expected that the development will be operational by 2014. The project is located at the edge of Rumster forest, and the land used for the development was purchased by the local community for the purposes of establishing a local environmental and economic resource.

Renewable energy continues to be an important part of the Orkney economy, however one consequence has been an over-provision of micro wind turbines.  This has resulted in limits to the available grid capacity, and due to the very impressive rate of success, Scottish and Southern Energy have decided to stop providing grid connections, limiting renewable energy development in the immediate term.  It is expected that this issue will be resolved when a new undersea cable to Orkney is commissioned in 2015.  The commercial scale wind energy projects that we work with connect to the grid through an innovative Active Network, which uses non-firm connection agreements to allow full deployment of the local electricity network.  One downside of the Active Network is that the projects can be reduced in output or switched off if there is too much electricity being produced, nevertheless a connection using this scheme remains a viable way of getting projects operational.

In August 2012 Orkney Sustainable Energy submitted a planning application for three 900kW turbines to be positioned on the now redundant RAF Skeabrae aerodrome, west of Dounby in Mainland Orkney.  In line with all our recent developments, the Skeabrae project will be open to local investors, and due to the extensive land available, for the first time we have made sites available for community groups to install their own turbines, if desired.

April 2012:

Orkney Sustainable Energy are pleased to provide information on the high levels of electricity production from the Hammars Hill project during the 2011-2012 winter.  For the six months from October 2011 onwards the windfarm produced an average of 2000 MWh per month, resulting in a capacity factor of 65% over the winter.  This was a significant improvement upon the first winter of operation, and demonstrates that Hammars Hill is one of the finest wind farm locations in the UK.  The windiest and most productive month to date has been October 2011, closely followed by January 2012, with 2181 and 2159 MWh respectivly exported to the National Grid.  One consequence of these high production levels is increasing curtailment from the Orkney Active Network; the windfarm output was reduced by 20% on occasion due the local grid reaching maximum capacity. 

The Thorkell project in Deerness, eastern Orkney, is now fully operational. This is a single Enercon E44 900kW wind turbine, and is predicted to provide 3500MWh of electricity per annum.  This is an Orkney Renewable Energy development, and as with all their developments, was open for local investors; all capital costs were raised from investors and existing shareholders, with no requirements for bank borrowings.  Orkney Renewable Energy also successfully managed to obtain planning consent for a similar scale development at Berriedale in South Ronaldsay.  Orkney Renewable Energy now have three developments located along the eastern coastline Orkney, and are looking to maximise the generating potential from the area.

In March 2012 Orkney Sustainable Energy completed the preliminary design of a large project on the outskirts of Kirkwall, with a Scoping Report issued for the Quanterness Wind Energy Project; this will likely consist of up to five 2MW scale turbines, located on a low lying site between Kirkwall and Finstown.



January 2012: Orkney Sustainable Energy can now provide the 2011 annual production for  the Hammars Hill project, achieving 18,817 MWh of renewable-sourced electricity, an annual capacity factor of 46%.  This remains an excellent project, and we are pleased to be part of this development.  The windiest month was October 2011, when 2199 MWh was produced, a monthly capacity factor of 65%.  These last twelve months has been an exceptionally windy period, with three significant gales reaching windspeeds well above 100 mph, and it is very encouraging that the technology continues to function as well as it has. 

The Thorkell project was delivered to site in the late summer of 2011, with a Statcomm unit delivered in December.  Generation has been delayed, as it is quite difficult to construct and commission wind energy developments over the winter months, however the last stages are now complete and switch on should occur during the last week of January 2012. This project is a single 900kW Enercon wind turbine, and is located in Deerness, at the eastern side of Orkney.  This project is owned by Orkney Renewable Energy Ltd, and the project was open for investors; all capital costs were raised from investors and existing shareholders, with no requirements for bank borrowings.

Orkney Sustainable Energy has ensured that there is a readily available supply of wood pellets for consumers in Orkney, and this year we have organised transport in conjunction with The Streamline Shipping Group.  Stocks of wood pellets are ready for delivery, and during 2012 the cost is £265 + 5% VAT per tonne delivered to Mainland Orkney customers; please follow the link to the wood pellet section if you want to buy pellets.


October 2011: Orkney Sustainable Energy are pleased to announce that the Hammars Hill project has now completed the first year of production, achieving over 17,000 MWh of renewable-sourced electricity.  This has been an excellent project, and we are pleased to be part of this development.  The windiest period was during February 2011, when over 2000 MWh was produced in that month alone. This level of generation is typical in Orkney, with projects achieving over 45% capacity factors.  

Over the summer the Thorkell project was delivered to site and lifted into place, with first production now expected in November 2011.  This project is a single 900kW Enercon wind turbine, and is located at the very end of the UK grid in Deerness, at the eastern side of Orkney.  This project is owned by Orkney Renewable Energy Ltd, and the project was open for investors; all capital costs were raised from investors and existing shareholders, with no requirement for bank borrowings.  This project has pushed the grid capacity to the limit in this part of Orkney, and to ensure everything remains stable, a device called a Dstatcom has been incorporated in the grid system.


May 2011: Orkney Sustainable Energy can now supply the full range of Woodpecker wood pellet boilers for customers in Orkney and Shetland.  With the Renewable Heat Incentive due to commence in July 2011, it is now possible to heat your home with low cost renewable fuel.

The Hammars Hill site has now passed the 10,000 MWh production milestone, achieved in April, after six months of operation.  This is equivalent to a 50% annual capacity factor, suggesting that the site may well become one of the most productive windfarms of this scale anywhere in the world.  The Hammars Hill windfarm is perhaps one of the best examples of a locally owned renewable energy project in the UK.

The Thorkell project in Deerness is now underway, and a single 900kW wind turbine should be in place by October this year.  It has taken a long time to get to this stage, and it will be very good to see the turbine working this year.  This project is to be owned by Orkney Renewable Energy Ltd, and in line with all their developments there will be an opportunity to become an investor in the development in due course.

Orkney Sustainable Energy have three projects going through the planning system in Orkney at the moment, in the communities of Orphir, South Ronsldsay and Hoy, and in each case we have designed a project around the Enercon 900kW wind turbine.  This remains a very useful scale of wind turbine which is particularly relevent for island communities.

February 2011: The weather has been unusual over the first few weeks of 2011.  Across the world there have been severe floods, gales and winter storms, and in Orkney it looks like we have had a once-in-25 year event, with very strong winds passing over the county on the 3rd and 4th of February.  The Hammars Hill site recorded a peak gust of 57 metres per second at around 3 am on the 4th, and that same wind managed to snap four of the mooring chains holding the oil vessel

Gryphon Alpha in place off Norway.   The average windspeed was also very high, equivalent to a Category One Hurricane

The Enercon wind turbines have proved to be very good in these high wind conditions.  They have a Storm Control system, and although they are not producing full power, they are able to generate even when windspeeds are above 30 m/s.  The older design of turbines shut down at 25 m/s, and it is interesting that the modern variable speed machines seem very able in severe weather.

Orkney Sustainable Energy is also pleased to  report that the Mains of Bogfechel Enercon E48 wind turbine in Aberdeenshire is now fully operational, and is exporting power to the local grid. 

 December 2010: Orkney Sustainable Energy are pleased to report that the Glenurquhart and Strathglass Wind Energy Project has been awarded consent by Highland Council.  This project consists of five 2MW scale wind turbines located on a remote moorland hill between Glen Affric and Drumnadrochit, south of Inverness, and is near the Corrimony RSPB reserve.  This project will connect to the grid at the Fasnakyle power station, and has been structured as a partnership between the local community and the farming family on whose land the turbines are to be located.  It is to be hoped that we can construct the project in 2011 and 2012.

The Hammars Hill windfarm on mainland Orkney has been taken over by the project owners, and is producing high levels of renewable  electricity to the Orkney grid.  This project is connected to the grid via an innovative active network management system, with the local utility company able to control or stop the turbines should the grid become unstable, and is providing a good example of how renewable energy can be installed in remote locations.

The Bogfechel Enercon E48 wind turbine in Aberdeenshire was installed in the middle of December, and replaces an old derelict machine.  The Mains of Bogfechel had one of the very first wind turbines in Aberdeenshire, and it is very encouraging to see the farm producing renewable electricity again. 


October 2010: All our Orkney projects continue to perform well, with the Sigurd turbine on Burgar Hill, the Vestas V52 on Burray, the Birsay Energy E44 and now the Hammars Hill windfarm demonstrating that Orkney remains a premier location for wind energy prduction.


Orkney Sustainable Energy are pleased to report that the Hammars Hill windfarm on mainland Orkney has been successfully commissioned.  This project has five Enercon E44 wind turbines and contributes 4.5MW of renewable electricity to the Orkney grid.  This project is an excellent example of a locally-owned wind energy development, and has the local authority as the largest investor.  The project was structured to have around 50% of the costs provided through local investment, with the remainder provided through debt finance.

The Sigurd turbine is a Nordex N60 1.3MW machine, and has operated sucessfully on Burgar Hill for over a decade.  This machine uses stall regulation, and is an example of older technology, however the machine continues to provide around 5000 MWh of renewable electricity each year.

The Northfield wind turbine has now begun the sixth year of operations on Burray, and the project is now working towards expansion, to coincide with a proposed upgrade to the Orkney electricity grid.  This project remains the most succesful example of a locally-owned wind energy development in Scotland, and 2010 continues to provide high levels of returns, largely due to the high quality wind regime and good power contracts.  Orkney Renewable Energy is also making good progress with expansion plans, with the Thorkell project on Deerness underway, with turbine purchase likely in the near future.

The Birsay Energy Enercon E44 wind turbine has now completed the first year of operation, and has performed very well over the year.  The last winter was unusually calm, nevertheless the project produced an impressive 2600 MWh over the first twelve months of operation, and the site appears to be entirely appropriate for this type of wind turbine; an expansion has been designed and will be submitted in the near future.  This expamsion will follow the now common Orkney pattern, and will be available for local investors to come on board. 


 April 2010: The Northfield wind turbine has now completed the fifth year of operations on Burray, and continues to provide an impressive and sustainable energy output.  This project remains the most succesful example of a locally-owned wind energy development in Scotland, and 2009 provided exceptionally high levels of returns, largely due to the high quality wind regime and good power contracts; total production for the year was 3210 MWh, with a 97% availability.  Total production of renewable energy for the first five years of operation came to 16,444 MWh. Orkney Renewable Energy is also making good progress with expansion plans, with the Thorkell project on Deerness well underway.  Orkney Sustainable Energy are project managers and  please get in touch if you would like more information regarding these developments, or have a look at the ORE website: www.ore.uk.net.

The Birsay Energy Enercon E44 wind turbine has now completed the first six months of operation, and has performed exceptionally well over the winter.  Although weather patterns have been unusual this year the turbine still managed to produce an impressive 350 MWh for the month of January, a capacity factor of 52%.  This project has now migrated over to the Feed In Tariff scheme.

The Hammars Hill project is now ready for the arrival of the five wind turbines in the late summer of this year.  The roads and hardstandings have all been completed, and the project provides an excellent example of the high standards of work produced by Orkney companies.

February 2010: Two new support mechanisms have been proposed, supporting the further deployment of renewable energy in the UK; Feed In Tarrifs (FIT), and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).  The FIT scheme begins in April 2010, with RHI beginning in April 2011.

The FIT scheme has two components; generation and export, with a total contract price for 500kW - 1.5MW wind turbines of £94 for generation + £30 for export; £124/MWh.  This is reported as being index linked for 20 years, however this may exclude export - the documents issued by DECC are unclear on this issue.  The price being offered is therefore similar to the best rate that was available during the high oil price spike of 2008; this makes the decision to choose between conventional contracts and the Feed In tariff more difficult.  Should oil price rise and you have an oil-price linked contract, then better to stay with the old system.  If oil price collapses, then go with FIT - more stable and bank-friendly.

The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme will start in April 2011, with consultation underway: 



The scheme is very interesting, as it is  proposed that a typical 3 bed house should be given an annual payment of around £1200 per annum for 15 years if you use wood pellets for heating.  The scheme has been backdated to July 09, and any project commissioned after that date will be entiled to receive the payment.  Details of the scheme can be found in our advice pages.





December 2009:   We have ended the decade with an extremely successful year.  We have had a range of wind energy projects consented and we constructed and commissioned two wind turbines, one in Orkney, the other in Moray.  The renewable energy industry continues to grow, and it is now largely recognised that wind turbines are an excellent way of providing both sustainable energy and economic benefits to the local community.  The other success we have had this last year has been with our demonstration biomass heating scheme.  There are now three Woodpecker boilers and a wood-pellet fired stove running in Orkney; wood energy for heating has become a reality and we are providing wood pellets for an increasing number of customers.

Balnamoon Renewables Ltd, Moray:  The Enercon E48 wind turbine at Balnamoon is fully operational and is providing renewable-sourced electricity into the national grid at Keith in the north-east of Scotland.  By the last week of December 2009 the turbine had produced 750,000 kWh of electricity, demonstrating the importance and reliability of wind energy.  The project is now looking to expand upon this success, and we look forward to working with Balnamoon Renewables in the coming years.

Birsay Energy Ltd, Orkney:  The Enercon E44 wind turbine on Birsay Moor in the West Mainland of Orkney was commissioned in October 2009, and although initially power-limited due to weaknesses in the local grid, the project has already produced almost 500 MWh of electricity, and the project is on track to achieve an annual production figure of 3.2 GWh.  Orkney is an excellent area for the production of wind-sourced electricity, with annual production figures easily amongst the highest in the world.

Hammars Hill Energy Ltd, Orkney:  Hammars Hill is the first Orkney windfarm open to local investors.  This five turbine project has been funded through a combination of shareholding and bank borrowings, and is on track towards becoming the most productive of all the developments we have completed to date.  The annual average windspeed is in excess of 11 m/s, suggesting that this site will outperform the nearby Burgar Hill development.  Roads and hardstandings were constructed in 2009, with the turbines due to arrive in late summer 2010.

Orkney Renewable Energy Ltd, Orkney:  OSE are pleased to announce that Orkney Renewable Energy have been awarded consent for the first of their new projects, a single 900kW turbine on Deerness, at the eastern edge of Orkney.  This project is the first of a series of new developments, with delivery and operations due to begin in summer 2010.

Mains of Bogfechel, Aberdeenshire:  Consent has been given for the construction of a single 800kW turbine at Mains of Bogfechel near Whiterashes in Aberdeenshire; this will be the nearest wind turbine to the City of Aberdeen.  Although Aberdeen is the energy capital of Europe, wind turbines are not common due to radar and air traffic restrictions, and this project will demonstrate that wind energy can operate near to airports without significant difficulty.


August 2009: The UK government has now published the 2009 Renewable Energy Strategy, which details the mechanisms that will enable the UK to meet significant carbon reduction targets through the production of renewable energy.  For the scale of projects that we are involved with the two most important measures are the proposals for feed-in tariffs for the electricity produced by wind turbines, and a new renewable heat incentive which will provide payments for our clients starting to use biomass boilers.  The strategy document can be found in our advice section, and more details will be provided in forthcoming months.

We are pleased to report that the the Balnamoon wind turbine in Moray has now been commissioned and is fully operational; the 500hr service was completed on schedule and the turbine has been handed over to the client.  This project uses the Enercon E48 wind turbine, and we are in the process of constructing a range of projects across Orkney and Scotland using this model of turbine.

The Birsay Energy development in Orkney uses the class 1 Enercon E44 900kW turbine, and the foundations were completed in May, with the cabling and switchgear building completed in June; the turbine will be delivered to Orkney in July, with commissioning in August.  We are also pleased to report that construction of the Hammars Hill Wind Energy Project has begun, with the manufacture of the access track started.  This development will have five 900kW wind turbines.


July 2009

Renewable Energy Strategy 2009

"To meet the challenge of climate change, we need to save carbon in every sector of the economy – this will mean a rapid transition to renewable energy. This Strategy shows how we can reach our goal of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020. Doing so will help the UK to lead the industries of the future. According to recent analysis the renewable energy sector could support up to half a million jobs in the UK by 2020. It  will help safeguard the security of our energy system. The plans here can help reduce the UK’s use of fossil fuel by around 10%, and so stem the rise in the UK’s use of  imported fossil fuels, with our need for gas imports 20-30% lower than they would have been in 2020. This Strategy shows how we can achieve this transformation. It will involve producing enough energy from renewable sources by 2020 to supply the equivalent of nearly all 26 million homes in the UK with their current electricity needs, and 4 million homes with their current heating needs. Already, renewable electricity has doubled in the UK in five years, and in the last year alone, onshore wind capacity grew by almost a third, and offshore by two thirds. We already have more offshore wind power than any other country. The natural resources are there and waiting to be harnessed: two independent reports found the UK has the largest potential for wind energy in Europe, and one of the greatest natural wave power resources in the world.

Government action can shape the market to drive further progress. By next year, for example, the obligation on energy suppliers to get a rising proportion of electricity from renewable sources, combined with the exemption from the Climate Change Levy, will be worth around £1 billion a year to the renewable electricity industry. Planning decisions and access to the grid are becoming quicker and easier. Households, communities, public services and business will be able to generate their own renewable energy, through the introduction of a new Renewable Heat Incentive and ’Feed-In Tariffs‘ to  provide guaranteed payments for energy they produce.  With cleaner energy, new opportunities for jobs and greater security of supply, this plan shows a clear route to a cleaner, better energy system. It makes a significant contribution to tackling climate change. I look forward to working with businesses and communities to put these actions into practice."

The Rt. Hon Ed Miliband MP
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change


May 2009:  Orkney Renewable Energy Ltd have submitted plans for a single wind turbine in Deerness; the Thorkell project.  It is hoped that this project will build upon the success of the Northfield wind turbine in Burray, and the development is the first of three projects planned for 2009.   Orkney Sustainable Energy has designed the site and managed the environmental impact assessment; a non-technical summary is available on our projects website.   Please get in touch if you would like more information regarding this development, or have a look at the ORE website: www.ore.uk.net.

The Balnamoon wind turbine has been commissioned and is now fully operational.  The energisation of the grid took slightly longer than originally predicted, however the turbine went live on the 13th of May, allowing completion of final commissioning.  The turbine is an Enercon E48, rated at 800kW, and maximum power was reached for the first time on the 31st of May.  This is the first time we have designed a project using an Enercon turbine, and operations over the next few months will hopefully give a good indication of any reliability or production issues.  The Orkney community projects, the Hammars Hill development and the Birsay Energy turbine are proposing to use the  Enercon E44, a class 1 version of the Balnamoon turbine. 

Our demonstration biomass project has now completed the winter heating season, and we are pleased to report that the Woodpecker biomass boiler has performed exceptionally well, providing excellent levels of warmth over one of the coldest winters experienced in recent years.  The biomass pages have been updated, and include the slides from a recent talk. 


March 09: The Northfield wind turbine has now completed the fourth year of operation on Burray, and continues to provide an impressive and sustainable energy output.  This project remains the most succesful example of a locally-owned wind energy development in Scotland, and  2008 was the most succesful year to date.  It should be noted that in October 2008 the turbine produced 410 MWh of electricity, at a capacity factor of 65%, and total energy production for the year came to 3408 MWh, representing an annual capacity factor of 46%.   Orkney Sustainable Energy are site managers for this project and the development company has expansion plans underway for wind projects throughout the county.   Please get in touch if you would like more information regarding these developments, or have a look at the ORE website: www.ore.uk.net.

The Balnamoon wind turbine has completed pre-commissioning, and all sites works have been finished. The switchgear building has been constructed, and all site cabling is in place.  The project is awaiting the main grid connection switch, and once installed this will allow generation to commence in April 2009.

We have now begun supplying Woodpecker biomass boilers to consumers in Orkney.  To help kick start the use of wood pellets we have arranged a discount to the list price of the Woodpecker indoor and outdoor boilers.  This special offer is being targeted at customers who want to be involved in a more hands on way, and are willing to become involved in the installation process; this is not connected to the grant scheme available in other parts of Scotland.  The main market for this product at the moment is domestic consumers who already have an oil-fired heating system, and simply want to swap over to biomass heating.  Please get in touch if you would like more information: enquiries@orkneywind.co.uk 


December 08: Orkney Sustainable Energy are pleased to report that the Hammars Hill Wind Energy Project was approved by Orkney Islands Council on the 10th of December 2008, exactly nine months to the day from when the planning application was submitted.  Orkney Sustainable Energy are the designers of this project, consisting of  five Enercon E44 wind turbines.  The development encompasses the latest ideas on local ownership and a summary report can be found in our download directory, www.orkneywind.co.uk/projects. Construction of the project will likely begin in late summer 2009, once the bird breeding season has passed, with delivery of the wind turbines predicted in 2010. 

The Balnamoon wind turbine was delivered ahead of schedule, arriving on site on the 10th of December 2008.  The site access track and turbine foundations were all completed on time, allowing assembly of the major turbine components, with the tower and nacelle all in place within two days of delivery.  The blade/hub/generator assembly was put together on the 12th of December, with all installation work completed by the 15th. The switchgear building is now under construction, and should be completed before the end of 2008.  The site cabling is expected at the beginning of February 2009 and everything should be ready to allow generation to commence in spring 2009.

The first bulk delivery of wood pellets has arrived in Orkney, allowing domestic consumers the first real opportunity to shift away from the use of oil and gas for domestic heating, using a carbon neutral fuel.  We are working with Swanbister Farms in Orkney, who have provided the storage space, and the Arbuthnott Estate in Aberdeenshire. The first pellets we are providing have been are produced from the waste produced from their managed forests, and are being used in our own project to see how they compare with other suppliers.  The wood pellets web page has a link to the supplier, and has a paypal link to allow purchase of the fuel.  We are keeping low overheads and accordingly the price of the fuel is the same as that on Mainland Scotland. 


November 08: Consent has been awarded to the Mains of Bogfechel wind turbine in Aberdeenshire, following a decision to reduce the turbine size.  It was originally intended that a 2.3MW Enercon E70 wind turbine would be installed as a replacement of the derelict turbine on the site, however Aberdeen Airport had concerns that the rotating blades could have an effect on the radar systems in the area.  By altering the turbine to an Enercon E44, maximum tip height was reduced to an acceptable level, allowing planners to recommend approval. Consent was duly awarded, and we look forward to constructing the turbine in the near future.

The construction of the Balnamoon wind turbine near Keith in Moray has begun, with the delivery of the turbine foundation ring.  The access track has been constructed and improved to allow vehicle access, and the site has been made ready for the delivery of the turbine, forecast for December this year.  The switchgear building is now being constructed, and generation should commence in spring 2009.

Orkney's first wood pellet domestic boiler has now been installed and commissioned.  This project will demonstrate that high standards of heating can be provided in rural Scotland, without the need to use coal, oil or gas.  Wood pellets are a carbon neutral fuel, as trees absorb carbon dioxide during growth, which is released when the wood is burnt.  The pellets are produced from the waste produced from managed forests, and is a sustainable fuel.  A new web page will show the story, with regular updates over the coming twelve months.

The construction of the Holodyke wind turbine in West Mainland Orkney has also begun, with the completion of the access track and the hardstanding.  Delivery of the turbine will take place in spring 2009.

May 2008:  On May 6 2008 there was a launch of a public share issue aimed at raising £8.5m to invest in wind farms and other renewable energy projects across the United Kingdom. Ethical bank Triodos is offering people the chance to become shareholders in Triodos Renewables, a public limited company which came into being 13 years ago as the Wind Fund.  Triodos Renewables invests mainly in small and medium-sized wind farms, hydroelectric schemes and emerging renewable energy technology companies in the UK. It owns and operates two wind farms, Caton Moor in Lancashire and Haverigg II in Cumbria, and two single turbines, Gulliver in Lowestoft, Suffolk,  and Sigurd in the Orkney Islands - the Nordex 1.3MW wind turbine on Burgar Hill. It also owns the Beochlich hydroelectric project in Argyll, Scotland, and it has a stake in Marine Current Turbines, a tidal energy company whose first commercial turbine will begin operating off the coast of Northern Ireland later this year, and is a partner in Connective Energy, which is developing ways to capture and re-use waste heat from industry.

Triodos Renewables plans to use the money raised by the new share issue to more than double the amount of green electricity it produces in the next two to three years. It is issuing up to 5.5m new shares at £1.65 per share. The minimum investment is £825 (500 shares), and Triodos Renewables indicate that an investment of £2,970 will produce renewable energy output equivalent to the average person's annual carbon footprint.

Triodos Renewables is managed by Bristol-based Triodos Bank and investors can call 0845 478 6361 for a share issue prospectus.

It is very encouraging to see this level of commitment by a bank, and this share offer provides an investment spread over a range of renewable energy projects.  Orkney Sustainable Energy Ltd were the designers of the Sigurd project, and were originally responsible for managing the planning process, the design studies and the environmental impact assessment in 1999, and are presently local site managers for the project.  

April 2008:  Orkney Sustainable Energy completed the installation of strain measurement sensors on a Nordic 1MW wind turbine during April 2008. This turbine is a Swedish designed 2-bladed machine, and is a lightweight and flexible alternative to the classic Danish 3-blade design.  The turbine is located at the Nasudden windfarm at the southern end of the island of Gotland, Sweden's 100% renewables community.  Gotland has a population of 58,000 and has landmass around double that of the Orkney Islands.  As well as extensive use of solar and biomass systems, the community has a target of 120MW of windpower installations, including a locally-owned offshore windfarm.  A report on the Gotland renewable energy projects can be found at the following site:  http://www.gotland.se/imcms/servlet/GetDoc?meta_id=3085

March 2008:  Orkney Sustainable Energy are pleased to report that the Hammars Hill Wind Energy Project has now entered the planning process, with a planning application for five Enercon E44 wind turbines submitted on the 10th of March 2008.  Orkney Sustainable Energy are the designers of this project ; a summary report can be found in our download directory, www.orkneywind.co.uk/explore.  Adobe Acrobat copies of the full environmental statement are also available for a small fee - click on the Paypal button in the downloads page and send us an email request.


The Scottish Government promotes and supports local and community-owned wind turbines, as demonstrated in SPP6, the new national planning guidelines.  A copy of the guidelines can be found in our planning advice section - www.orkneywind.co.uk/advice.

February 2007:  The Vestas V52 wind turbine on Burray has now completed three full years of operation.  This project is owned by Orkney Renewable Energy Ltd, and the development is still the only wind turbine in Scotland to be fully funded through local share ownership.  The total revenue from this turbine has now exceeded the original cost of the turbine.  The project remains an unqualified success and is an excellent example of a locally owned renewable energy project.  Richard Gauld is a Director of the Company and is site manager.

December 2007:  Orkney Sustainable Energy are pleased to report that our latest success has been the Holodyke wind energy project in Mainland Orkney.  This project has been over three years in planning, and following the award of planning consent we look forward to building a 1MW scale wind turbine in 2008.

November 2007:  It looks like 2007 is shaping up to be our most succesful year.  The Melness commmunity wind energy project in Sutherland, and the Haddo, Courtstone and Denhill developments and the Herscha Hill Wind Energy Project in Aberdeenshire have all now received planning consent.  Construction of these projects should begin 2008, however there are difficulties in obtaining wind turbines; 80m and 90m tall turbines are no longer available.

May 2007: Orkney Sustainable Energy takes great care to design projects to fit the landscape.The Dummuie development is in Aberdeenshire near Huntly, where seven Vestas V66 wind turbines are located in an elevated valley, and in this case the highest land was avoided to minimise impact upon the network of radar systems that covers the north-east of Scotland.  At the same time the project layout took advantage of surrounding hills to hide the development from all but the most immediate neighbours.  The project is so well hidden that drivers travelling between Huntly and Aberdeen are only fleetingly aware of the development, and the project is soon hidden by folds in the land.

Just across the road is the Glens of Foudland windfarm of Siemens 1.3MW turbines, and interesting comparisons can be drawn between the two projects.  Although the Vestas V66 is larger and produces 30% more power than the Siemens turbine, it could be argued that the Glens of Foudland project is much more visually significant due to the positioning of wind turbines on hilltops and ridges.

April 2007:  The Melness Community Wind Energy Project in Sutherland has been awarded planning consent. The community intend putting up three 850kW wind turbines and will use the revenues to fund community projects in Melness and Tongue.  It is hoped that the project will help reverse depopulation and establish growth in this remote part of Scotland.  The project was a challange, as the wind farm had to minimise impact upon a National Scenic Area, sit alongside environmentall sensitive moorland and avoid a military strategic low flying area.  The planning process took over two year, but in the end consensus was achieved, and Highland Council Planning Department were in a position to give permission for the windfarm through delegated powers.

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