When the Burnbrae and Afton Lea turbines were erected in 2016, it should have meant another two megawatts being added to the UK’s renewable generating capacity.
Four years on, they’d barely done enough to boil a kettle.
But CleanEarth recently acquired them, and last week we got them spinning and finally sending power to the grid.
Less common failure mode
We’ve completed a number of projects that other renewables companies had started but failed to finish. Most commonly, they’ve walked away after planning consent and before breaking ground.
But in this case the original developer managed to erect the turbines and qualify for the Feed-in Tariff before realising they couldn’t finish the job. While grid capacity for the project was secured, the complexities of completing the connecting infrastructure left the developer over-extended.
This was a new twist on the familiar story of a landowner being let down by a turbine developer long on promises but short on delivery.
Persistence pays off
When we spotted the unfulfilled potential, our team conducted a technical survey with specialist service engineers Bettink (now Rengineers), and saw no reason why they shouldn’t be spun up and fully energised.
Some additional trenching and jointing work followed, to complete the grid connection. The G59 test was conducted in late April and the two turbines, idle for so long, are now generating enough electricity to power well over a thousand Scottish homes.
More in the pipeline
While we are proud of our record in completing projects that others have walked away from, we are not shy about starting from scratch ourselves.
We currently have half a dozen other turbine projects in design, planning or construction, representing 60 MW of additional renewable capacity. And we are always interested in talking to businesses and landowners about the potential for wind generation.
With the government making major policy changes in favour of onshore wind, and with wind energy providing 25% of the UK’s electricity so far this year, the growth in wind power looks set to continue.