Effective methods of dismantling wind farms to ensure they leave as little trace as possible are contained in new research and guidance from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
The report, Research and guidance on restoration and decommissioning of onshore wind farms’ builds on practices of dismantling onshore wind farms. The research was undertaken by SLR Consulting Ltd with support from a steering group including representatives from the renewables industry.
It provides guidance on the development of a Restoration and Decommissioning Plan (RDP) template to help develop good practice guidance.
The research proposes a planned phasing out of a site to leave as little trace as possible. The report states that early consideration and regular review of these plans by developers will benefit the environment.
Operators are being urged to build up a greater understanding of a site’s natural heritage features and how these respond to change before considering it for use.
An example of a potential future option is repowering’ where next generation turbines are built on existing sites. This is particularly popular in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands where competition for space has encouraged diversity.
The report also examines the used turbine market. It cites the example of the Isle of Gigha community on Scotland’s west coast, who bought three second hand Vestas machines in 2004 known as the Dancing Ladies’. Gigha became one of Europe’s first buyers of used wind turbines, the 675-kilowatt wind farm producing enough power to meet almost all of the island’s annual electricity needs with a yearly £93,500 profit for locally-owned Gigha Renewable Energy.
More generally, the report recommends that decommissioning conditions are improved to set the scene for restoration work on areas such as peatlands.
Kenny Taylor, renewables policy and advice officer with SNH, said: “In our experience developers are keen to consider the issue of decommissioning their wind farm when the time comes. We hope that they will find this report helpful in considering decommissioning options as early as possible and in the context of wider implications.
“As well as covering the ins and outs of decommissioning, it highlights other techniques such as repowering where new technology is used to resurrect an older site and can benefit the environment by having cleaner’ and newer techniques used.
“Looking ahead, the report will help developers of future wind farms to build them with decommissioning in mind. Knowing how they will remove it will help inform how they will build it.
“We are confident that this report will be of benefit to the industry in considering the wider implications of wind farm removal and the best ways of doing this. What we have found is that developers are enthusiastic about safe and effective decommissioning and restoration, and this report contains guidance on how to help them achieve that.
“Our advice is that environmental statements should cover restoration and dismantling by having a detailed description of options and the impacts associated with them in future renewables work.”
Media inquiries: Fergus Macneill, SNH Public Relations: 01463 725021
Scottish Natural Heritage is the government’s adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland’s nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.snh.gov.uk. SNH media is also now on Twitter at twitter.com/SNHMedia
Author: Fergus Macneill
Contact: SNH Press Office
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