An article in the Ayr Advertiser was explaining how turbine blades were being delivered to the port for a project in South Ayrshire.
Some of the comments suggested people didn’t really know anything about the windfarm. Thought I’d do a bit more research into this.
The blades are made by Enercon who are based in Germany. According to Wikipedia they have production facilities in Germany (Aurich, Emden and Magdeburg), Brazil, India, Canada, Turkey and Portugal. The turbines used on this site will be 3 bladed E-92 turbines with a diameter of 92m.
There are 25 blade manufacturers in the UK with the biggest being in Siemens Hull and Vestas on the Isle of Wight. There are some in Scotland with ACT Blade making high efficiency blades and SD Wind Energy who make smaller systems. But for the size of these blades there wouldn’t have been much to choose from in the UK.
At this time I don’t know who makes the generators, bearings, towers, cabling or control systems for these plants. But I couldn’t find any local companies in Ayrshire.
Some people suggested that there would not be enough wind for the turbines. Which perhaps suggests they don’t actually live in Ayrshire or at least don’t go outside. June and July are the lowest times for wind with the windspeed dropping to an average of 17.2kph. Converting this to m per second gives 4.7m/s. This is lower than the recommendation of 5m/s to be “cost effective”. But this doesn’t mean that the turbines won’t be generating, according to the data sheet for the E-92 turbine, those can start generating with as little as 2m/s.
You might see that turbines are not turning but this is not always because there is not enough wind, it can also mean there is not enough demand.
Dealing with over-capacity
Scotland only uses about 2/3 of the power generated by it’s turbines. The rest is sent to England and Ireland via high voltage DC cables. These grid interconnects have also been reported to be an issue (can’t find a link for this). If Scotland generates more than it needs and the interconnects can’t take the load then the turbines would need to be shut off. An alternative which is being used at the Greenburn farm wind park near New Cumnock is to incorporate storage, something not selected for the Kirk Hill farm.
There are plans for a new high voltage link through the North Sea which would increase capacity. A similar link to Norway seems to have got caught up in politics.
Another commenter was asking about jobs. Obviously the most jobs happen at this stage in the project, the Ayr advertise article mentioned all the companies involved dealing with the port, cranes and hauliers. So this is an obvious benefit for the town. No doubt plenty of people involved with the preparation of the site, laying foundations etc too. The area has a strong background of being able to handle earth works due to the history in mining and quarrying.
To run a wind farm doesn’t need a lot of people. “Wind energy the facts” suggests only 2 people per 40 turbines. So Kirk Hill having only 8 turbines might not have a full time crew, perhaps sharing with other facilities.
The ownership for this project is quite interesting, it’s a co-operative formed by Ripple Energy. You buy a share of the project and the get returns each year in the form of savings on your energy bills. You are not allowed to buy more than 120% of your estimated usage. The shares for Kirk Hill have already been sold so you’d need to join a waiting list for their next project.