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New wind farm is set to boost the Outer Hebrides’ economy

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Loch Carnan Wind Farm the Isle of South Uist

An £11 million wind farm is currently under construction in the Isle of South Uist, by South Uist Renewable Energy (SURE), part of the Community land owners of the 93,00 acre South Uist Estate. 

Loch Carnan Community Wind Farm comprises three Enercon E70 turbines and forms part of the largest cluster of community wind farms in the UK. Once fully operational, the wind farm will be capable of producing 6.9MW of energy – with an annual electricity production of 25,000 MWh – and will generate a substantial income for the local community for the next 20 years.

Work began on site on the Loch Carnan Community Wind Farm in March 2012. RJ McLeod (Contractors) Limited is the main contractor on the site, providing roads, foundations and cable tracks. Meanwhile Green Cat Renewables – acting on behalf of SURE – is the technical advisor on the project. The key services provided by Green Cat Renewables include detailed design work, route access, technical procurement advice and construction project management.

Funding for Loch Carnan Community Wind Farm is being provided through a combination of sources. Funding includes investment from the Co-op Bank and the Social investment Scotland as well as through £2.4 million of European Regional Development Fund support in recognition of the huge community benefit that will be realised through the future investment generated.

Throughout the construction of the wind farm an ecological clerk of works is being conducted on the site to limit the impact that work will have on watercourses and rare European protected annex 1 species such as red throated divers.

Loch Carnan Wind Farm the Isle of South Uist

As the construction of the wind farm is a community based project great care is also being taken to ensure that costs are being kept to a minimum. When work began on the site an early design proposal included the use of floating roads for access tracks; however a more cost effective design was used to provide an alternative and more affordable solution. The new design sourced rock from the site to combined rock founded tracks with floating roads which saved both time and money.

Additional work on the site will include the installation of reinforced concrete foundations, the construction of a 1.8km cable trench and the construction of a pre-fabricated substation. A 500 tonne crane will be used to lift the Enercon E70 turbines.

Green Cat Renewables Principle Engineer, Andrew Aveyard, said:

“The site was identified by SURE because of its location away from residential properties but with access to the electricity grid. After an extensive tender process Enercon were identified as the preferred turbine supply.

“Some turbines are prone to gearbox problems and can break down throughout the course of their life, but because the Enercon turbines are direct drive they do not gearboxes. In addition, Enercon have their own maintenance and servicing teams which is included as part of the warranty (EPK) package which means the risk of the turbine being unable to operate is minimised and if there are problems the service team will be on site within a guaranteed response time, all of provides a greater degree of comfort to SURE .”

Andrew Aveyard, added:

“Throughout 2012 Green Cat Renewables is involved with approximately 50MW of wind farm projects, all of which are very important to us. However it is the community based projects, such as this one at Loch Carnan, which highlight the hard work we put into developing local areas.

“By constructing these wind farms we are helping communities to obtain a new source of power and income that will remain in place for the next 20 years. This source of income will help the local community to secure infrastructure improvements that will take place around the South Uist Estate area, such as employment, housing and tourism infrastructure. In turn this will provide the islands with much better foundations for moving forward and in light of the current economic climate will make a massive difference to all of the 2,900 residents.

“Green Cat Renewables has been involved with a number of community schemes inScotlandand seeing these schemes fully operational and providing income is fantastic. We have established a great working relationship with these communities and that is something which is very rewarding for us.”

Loch Carnan Community Wind Farm is due for completion in late 2012.

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