During 2017 the Scottish Government has been developing its new Energy Strategy to deliver a fully decarbonised energy system by 2050. Onshore wind is seen as “essential” to this strategy and so a new onshore wind policy statement to sit alongside the Energy Strategy is being developed in parallel. However, a clock is ticking that could see many onshore wind farms come offline long before 2050. A conundrum faces authorities in the impending replacement-versus-removal argument With the typical lifespan of a wind farm ranging from 20 to 25 years, the earliest schemes of the 1990s will soon reach their natural end-of-life and operators need to decide if those wind farms can be “repowered” or will be decommissioned. These decisions must be taken many years in advance, meaning potentially thousands of megawatts of wind power capacity could be decommissioned over the period 2025 to 2035 unless a programme of repowering takes place. At the same time, the new financial paradigm faced by onshore wind with no current route to market means costs for the next generation of turbines must be reduced. There is reason for optimism in this regard as technology has moved on at pace since wind turbines first appeared on our skyline making it possible that reconfiguration of a site – fewer but larger, more productive turbines – can drive more efficient generation, in turn bringing down the cost of energy, ultimately benefiting the consumer. However, there is a conundrum facing local planning authorities in the impending replacement-versus-removal argument, which dates back to initial planning applications.
Scotsman 25th Aug 2017 read more »