Plans for a gigantic offshore development in the Moray Firth, billed as the world’s largest offshore wind farm with 339 turbines at a cost of £4.5 billion, are completely unsustainable economically.
Though developers claim this massive array “will be capable of supplying the electricity needs of 800,000 to one million households”, closer inspection reveals the usual spin expected from the energy companies.
First, although the project may be capable of supplying the electricity needs of up to one million households, this is supposing they operate at 100% efficiency. The reality is the load factor of offshore turbines is only around 30% on average. The real output of this project is more likely to cater to the energy needs of less than one-third of the promised number of household users.
Secondly, over their 20-year lifespan these turbines will require constant repair and maintenance due to the harsh conditions in which they have to operate. That means we will still have to rely on constant base-load back-up from coal or gas-fired power stations to keep the lights burning on the days when the turbines aren’t spinning.
The conclusion has to be that the SNP Government is determined to give monstrous projects like this the go-ahead because they fulfil the dogmatic prophecies of its new renewables religion, whatever the cost. The vast subsidies for this and other offshore wind farms are simply passed down the line to the electricity consumers, leading to repeated hikes in our bills and driving more than 900,000 Scottish households into fuel poverty. Meanwhile, the devastating visual impact of this development will destroy tourism around Caithness and the Moray Firth. In addition, sinking the enormous concrete and steel foundations over 114 square miles of seabed will have a catastrophic impact on marine ecosystems and sea mammals, and the long-term noise and vibration from the 339 turbines will drive most sea life out of this formerly productive fishery.
Anyone who thinks this proposal is a suitable contribution to a sustainable low-carbon economy should think again. We cannot afford it and we should not be trying to do so to satisfy the vanity of a Scottish Government hooked on the wrong solutions for our energy needs.
Struan Stevenson, MEP (Conservative)
Member of the Environment Committee,
The European Parliament,
Rue Wiertz, Brussels.
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