Remote island wind will benefit local communities and the wider economy

The planned Stornoway Wind Farm and Uisenis Wind Farm projects on the Isle of Lewis, under development by Lewis Wind Power (a joint venture between Amec Foster Wheeler and EDF Energy Renewables), will be examples of the vast positive impact remote island wind power provides.

Stornoway and Uisenis Wind Farm projects

Both Stornoway Wind Farm and Uisenis Wind Farm projects are fully consented - with support from the Scottish Government - and ready for development.

There is overwhelming community and political support for wind farm development on Lewis.

People living in the Western Isles are in favour of wind power and support wind farm development on the island.

In a newly commissioned report for EDF Energy Renewables, consultants BVG Associates found there would be a total of £416 million in benefits to the Western Isles to 2050. In terms of benefit to the UK economy, the figure would be nearly double this.

Remote island wind will benefit the wider UK based supply chain. It is expected that over 50% of the capital and operation of Western Isles wind projects will be spent in the UK. For example, Vestas - the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer - can commit to the feasibility of 300 mw of a 3MW platform turbine with blades to be locally produced in UK.

Combined with general infrastructure and connectivity improvements (e.g. UK grid connection), these projects can be an important part of the region’s industrial strategy creating:

  • new jobs
  • local economic opportunities
  • conditions for further inward investment

One of the most efficient wind technologies

Remote island wind is one of the most efficient wind technologies. Island wind generates 30% more wind power than the mainland UK average. This means better value for customers.

Combined with planning consent that supports the use of the latest generation wind turbines, remote Island wind projects can deliver low-carbon wind power that is competitive with offshore wind projects.

To meet carbon reduction targets, Government plans rely on investment in a significant amount of offshore wind capacity (c25TWhrs) by 2030. Remote Island Wind could contribute at least 3 TWhrs to this target and by providing cross- technology competition drive down costs as well as delivering substantial benefits to remote communities. 

Current challenges: securing a Contract for Difference

The Government is currently deciding on the eligibility of island wind projects for Contracts for Difference (CfD) for low-carbon electricity generation. This comes after a consultation which closed at the end of January. Their current position is that these projects should compete for contracts alongside onshore wind, and that it is not eligible to compete for support alongside offshore wind projects.

We believe that to make the most of the benefits of this technology, it should be treated as a separate category under the CfD scheme, or compete against similar, less-established technologies, such as offshore wind. This is because the required investment in interconnection, higher wind speeds and efficiencies, combined with the social and industrial benefits of building on remote islands and strong local support sets these apart from onshore projects. This would also drive competition and ensure that only the best value island and offshore wind projects are built. 

Words from the Western Isles community

Seumas Mactaggart
Coach at Stornoway Running & Athletics Club

The athletics club has seen great success at a local, regional and national level. However, it’s greatest challenge due to the remoteness of its location, is raising sufficient funds to enable the Island’s young athletes to partake in competitions on the Scottish mainland. Securing funding is essential to the future of the club as the costs involved with mainland travel for large groups can be considerable.

The club has seen previous support from Lewis Wind Power and Seamus feels it is “essential to the Island economy”, for the windfarm projects to proceed, and for the government at Scottish and UK levels to support 'Island Wind'.

John Macritchie
Owner of County Hotel

The general feeling locally is that we have to take full advantage of this superb wind energy that we have on the island. It is something special we have here and it is very different to mainland onshore.

Construction would create local jobs and massive opportunities for local companies with the availability of rental income and community benefits that would directly benefit the local economy.

I believe local businesses and small community groups will benefit from the community funds that would be available."

HJ Moon
Business Development Director at CS Wind UK

"These projects are vital for us in providing local job security but also to enable us to improve production costs to compete against European competitors."

Norman A MacIver

Norman MacIver is a Crofter and has been an elected trustee of the Storoway Trust for the last 11 years. During this time the Trust’s main focus has been the development of the Stornoway Wind Farm.

Norman is only too aware of the employment challenges in the Western Isles. He believes that there is an appetite within the young generation to remain and work on the Island, unfortunately there are fewer and fewer job opportunities.

"Renewable energy has a massive potential and could provide much needed employment for the next 25 years and beyond."

John Macleod
General Manager at Breedon Hebrides

John has lived in the Western Isles all his life, he works for Breedon, a haulage company and major local employer with significant contributions to the local supply chain. He knows how much local jobs are needed having seen direct employee numbers with the company halve in the last 10 years.

His company, along with many others, know that wind energy could be the Island’s saving grace – and one that puts the Western Isles back in business.

"I am strongly in favour of this investment and would urge the governments support."

Iain Macmillan 
Principal of Lews Castle College

Lews Castle College provides a credible alternative to young people that wish to remain on the Western Isles but still pursue higher education qualifications. 

Iain knows that the new island windfarms will have a significant impact on local education. Renewable Energy features prominently in The University of the Highlands and Islands’ Engineering portfolio and will play an essential part in the future local economy.

"We see the College as having a critical role to play in the future prosperity of the islands."

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