Dozens of giant turbines at Scots windfarms powered by diesel generators
Credit: By John Ferguson | 5 FEB 2023 | dailyrecord.co.uk ~~
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Scottish Power admitted 71 of its windmills were hooked up to the fossil fuel supply after a fault developed with their power supply.
Dozens of giant turbines on Scotland’s windfarms have been powered by diesel generators, the Sunday Mail can reveal. Scottish Power admitted 71 of its windmills were hooked up to the fossil fuel supply after a fault developed on the grid.
The firm said it was forced to act in order to keep the turbines warm during very cold weather in December. But a whistleblower has told the Sunday Mail the incident is among a number of environmental and health and safety failings.
The worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “The Scottish Government wants to make our country attractive to foreign investors as 40 per cent of the wind that blows across Europe blows across Scotland. However, that should not mean we put up with our waterways and nature being polluted with carbon from diesel generators and hydraulic oil.
“People should be aware that, while their energy costs continue to rise, our windfarms are not operating as efficiently as they could be due to corporate greed.”
Labour’s South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “The SNP and Greens have proven time and time again they cannot be trusted on environmental issues. They laud Scotland’s potential for renewables, yet don’t appear to ensure those already in existence are properly run. This isn’t the first problem raised about this site and there is concern at a lack of openness when problems arise.
“Whatever the reasons, having to use diesel generators to de-ice faulty turbines is environmental madness. This level of dishonesty cuts to the very core of the SNP and Green Government where their rhetoric on net zero is very different from the reality.”
Sixty turbines at Arecleoch Wind farm and 11 at Glenn App near Cairnrayn in South Ayrshire were affacted and connected to six huge diesel generators. The windfarms are operated by Scottish Power Renewables, a subsidiary of Spanish-based Iberdrola, which operates 1183 onshore turbines which can produce enough electricity to power two million homes.
But the whistleblower revealed how they had to bring in generators after the issue was discovered.
The worker said: “During December 60 turbines at Arecleoch and 11 at Glenn App were de-energised due to a cabling fault originating at Mark Hill wind farm. In order to get these turbines re-energised diesel generators were running for upwards of six hours a day.”
He also claimed there had been other technical issues and environmental problems discovered. They include:
- Turbines left operating on half power for long periods due to faulty convertor modules.
- Others in “test mode” where they take rather than contribute electricity to the grid.
- Over 4000 litres of oil leaked from hydraulic units on turbines and sprayed over the countryside.
- Concerns about safety standards and transparency.
The whistleblower said: “Turbines are regularly offline due to faults where they are taking energy from the grid rather than producing it, and also left operating on half power for long periods due to parts which haven’t been replaced.
“Dirty hydraulic oil is also regularly being sprayed out across the Scottish countryside due to cracks in mechanisms. Safety standards have not improved since a worker was killed in 2017 at Kilgallioch wind farm.”
We revealed last year how the chairman of ScottishPower, Spaniard Ignacio Galan, earned over £11million in 2021. He took home the massive package as millions of customers face being plunged into poverty by rocketing fuel costs.
A spokesman for Scottish Power confirmed diesel generators were used for a “short period of time” due to an “external fault on the GB network” which left three windfarms unable to operate during extreme cold weather in December. The spokesman insisted that diesel was not being used to generate electricity through the blades.
He added: “For context, Scottish Power measures the availability of its 1183 onshore turbines and looks at the percentage of time each turbine is ready and available to produce green energy, in 2022 this reliability figure was 96 per cent.”
He insisted that convertor modules had been replaced on turbines at Arecleoch and Mark Hill following technical issues.
The spokesman added: “All turbines across the entire energy industry use a small amount of electricity for their systems. Every wind turbine includes safety and monitoring systems that automatically detect any faults, including hydraulic systems.
“Any issues are minimised and dealt with promptly by our maintenance teams to the highest standards of environmental protocols. The health, safety and welfare of employees, contractors and members of the public, and the protection of business assets and operational capability, are our top priorities.
“As one of the greenest electricity producers in the UK we only generate 100per cent renewable electricity, operating thousands of turbines and producing enough clean energy to power two million homes every year. Regular and ongoing inspection and maintenance of our power assets takes place every day across our fleet in line with industry standards, and we comply with all regulatory requirements if our wind farms are not available to produce electricity for the GB grid.”
In relation to the collapse of a turbine at Kilgallioch windfarm, he added: “All relevant bodies were informed of the incident within the required timeframes.”
The £2million structure collapsed in 2017 during a storm. And it later emerged that Scottish Power had failed to alert the public to the incident for seven days.
Scottish Power was accused of “unfettered profiteering” after the energy giant raked in £924.6 million in profits during the first six months of 2022. The profits were announced as the cost of electricity and gas has soared plunging thousands of Scots into fuel poverty.
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At the time Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “How’s that for trickle-down economics? Billion of pounds are being handed over from Scottish Power to Iberdrola in Spain.
“Trickle down from Scotland to Spanish shareholders. Proof that government trickle down policies are doomed to fail.”
Galan, the CEO of ScottishPower’s parent company Iberdrola, once appeared before Spain’s High Court in relation to allegations that he spied on the chairman of Real Madrid. He gave testimony behind closed doors over whether Iberdrola hired police chief turned private detective Jose Manuel Villarejo.
It was alleged he breached the privacy of Real’s Florentino Perez when his construction company ACS was fighting for a seat on Iberdrola’s board in 2009. The court closed the case in June without further action.
However, it can be reopened on appeal. Galan denied any wrongdoing and the matter was dismissed with regards to him in June of last year.
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