No Tiree Array:-
Following SPR’s press release announcing dropping the Tiree Array and hearing on BBC
News, Jonathan Cole, head of offshore wind at SPR, rationalising SPR’s reasons , NTA
was flooded with calls, and emails, from its many supporters with expressions of joy, and
Many posed the very obvious question :- “ how come it took SPR so long ,and at so
much cost, to come to this conclusion” .
In 2008,during SPR’s site selection process, if SPR had spoken to one of Tiree’s
fisherman SPR would have been told :-" Nae chance.... efter a Tiree storm my
creels at Skerryvore shift 3-5 km .. they got nae chance to build the f..kng
Many wise Tiree heads endorsed this perspective.
Did SPR check out the local information that the windows on Skerryvore Lighthouse had
been smashed-in during a storm in the 50’s?
Did anyone from SPR stand, for a day, on the track up to Ben Hynish, to look out to
Skerryvore to be staggered by the huge swell over the reef, and in particular over
Mackenzie ‘s Rock, even in benign weather conditions.
In 2008 how diligent or competent, was SPR’s site selection process??
MS’ scoping opinion suggests SPR may not have been as diligent or competent as SPR would have wished.
Was it greed ? Was it simply the site, one of the windiest locations in the UK, blinded SPR’s critical faculties with its potential to
deliver to SPR an unprecedented cash-cow?
Moving forward:NTA, in Mar 2012, was prescient in forecasting what was to transpire in Dec 2012 ie SPR putting the Array on “12 months hold,
and subject to review” This was simple deduction from Jonathan Cole’s statement to Global Offshore Wind, 10 months earlier
in Feb 2012 that; “construction of the Argyll Array will probably take place a “few years” after the first portion of
Iberdrola’s biggest offshore challenge” (ref to the 7.2GW East Anglia Round) with Cole describing the Tiree Array as
“very challenging”, with harsh waters and complex seabed conditions’.
NTA in its own Summer 2013 review
reported,that there had been no
substantive advance in foundation
design and technology
The Tiree Array’s seabed conditions, and the problems they
posed for foundation design, were well known to SPR from
At the Sept 2011 SPR hosted trip for Tirisdeachs, to the
Walney -Barrow offshore windfarm, the comments made by
DONG’s’s ( Danish Oil and Gas) Walney-Barrow construction
team, were to prove pregnant with significance.
NTA was an attendee. On the conclusion of DONG’s
presentation NTA asked a very specific question re piling.
DONG replied this had not been a problem, the sea bed was
‘soft’ except for 6 piles when they had hit some ’hard’ stuff.
NTA asked what had been the solution. Dong replied, with a
smile “ we just hit the pile-hammer harder !!
The attendees pointed out that the Tiree Array site was rock,specifically lewissean gneiss, which was amongst geology’s hardest
rocks. DONG said “ you have a problem” . When asked if explosives were the solution, replied “NO way .. you can only
As we drove back for dinner, NTA remembers, only too well, expanding on this subject with SPR’s Project Engineer , who advised
that gravity foundations were not being considered, because the site would have to be leveled. He referred to the sole application of gravity foundations to date ie Thornton Bank, off the Belgian coast , and advised they hadto be dropped half way
through construction, with a switch to jacket foundations .
Mysteriously gravity foundations subsequently were re-introduced into the frame for the Tiree Array.
The cynic in NTA saw this as:Ÿ a superficial attempt to embrace gravity based foundations claims of minimal site preparation. Presumably this was to
deflect the very obvious environmental ,and visual impact issues, raised by drilling and cutting for Jacket foundations.
Ÿ an obvious co-incidence with Scottish Government’s promotion of Kishorn as a production centre for concrete gravity
NTA, following this development, challenged every UK - European gravity foundation manufacturer to comment on their
suitability for the Tiree Array site. One manufacturer (Vinci) has a chart on their website stating their design to be Tiree Array
suitable. Not one single manufacturer replied
NTA requested the papers from Marine Scotland’s Oct 2013 Gravity Foundations: Offshore Wind Scotland Conference at which
Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy delivered the Welcoming Address
NTA asked Marine Scotland to comment on the suitability of gravity foundations suitability for the Tiree Array Site. NTA still
awaits Scottish Government’s reply.
Once again NTA re-circulated all UK–European manufacturers to comment. None replied with the exception of Norway’s
SeaTower Concept. SeaTower originally stated their design was Tiree Array suitable but on further interrogation qualified this by
stating:- “The key parameter is whether the penetration resistance of the ground is such that you can penetrate
skirts or not “. This paramater may not be achievable to the Tiree Array site’s geology.
NTA has questioned the banality of Scottish
Government building, and subsidising, test
sites onshore for the next generation of
off- shore 7 MW turbines ie
Samsung(SKorea) at Methil, with Siemens
(Germany) and Mitsubishi(Japan) at
Manifestly, the main
barrier to any offshore
wind development on the
WC Scotland, is the lack of
At the same time as Scotland stays onshore for testing, France goes offshore to test. The comparable test Alstom (France )
turbine was installed 40 km off the Belgian Coast shore ( note the Jacket foundation). Installation hit bad weather. It took 6
weeks. The installation vessel ,Fred Olsen’s Bold Tern,may have cost approx US$175,000 per day !!!
Any wonder that off shore wind generation is the most expensive source of electricity.
For all these reasons it is no surprise that SPR has dropped the Tiree Array. But SPR has surprised NTA, and many other
observers, as to why it took SPR so long, and at so much cost, to come to this conclusion.
The Tiree Array’s technology trajectory of construction and generation has apparently, at a stroke, pushed back from its original
perceived 2016-2018 trajectory, to 2030-2040.
NTA is not so naïve as to claim its campaign has achieved the dropping of the
proposed Tiree Array.
NTA may have raised the bar of the quality and substance of the interrogation of Government,and the Developer,to substantiate
their claims, with regard to the development of the proposed Tiree Array.
NTA questioned the efficacy of Scottish Governments’ energy policy, and every technical and economic survey associated with
this possible development. The latter proved naïve and self seeking in the promotion of Governments and the Developer’s
nebulous ,and specious claims of socio-economic gain plus community benefit.
These were supposedly to be derived from the Operation and Maintenance(O&M ) strategy.
SPR and Government played down the basic fundamental that dictates wind farm O&M strategy. It is dictated jointly and
severally by the turbine and offshore HVDC converter manufacture.
O&M is not the decision of the developer
The trajectory of O&M is the emergent adoption of specialist manned O&M vessels operating within the off shore wind farm.
Siemens, this summer, committed to the long term charter of two Norwegian built vessels. The Dutch have followed up with a
comparable design. The Danes are marketing a jack-up O&M vessel produced.
Alas there is no sign of the resurrection of Scottish shipbuilding to design and build such vessels.
Community Consultation:- The licensing process puts great store in a developer’s Community Consultation process.
NTA shredded SPR‘s community consultation in a comprehensive submission to Marine Scotland.
Visualisations/montages:- NTA produced the first visualisations/montages of the proposed Tiree Array. SPR produced
theirs, reluctantly 6 months later.
HVDC Converter Station :- NTA, at a public meeting, may have embarrassed SPR sufficiently to reveal substantive
details of any onshore HVDC station, whilst SPR ducked the issue of deemed consent.
Basking Sharks:- NTA addressed a major basking shark conference informing on the grave environmental consequences
from any development and construction of the Tiree Array site.
Marine Scotland’s Draft Licensing and Consent Manual: Recently NTA completed a forensic line by line
critique of the Marine Scotland’s Draft Licensing and Copnsent Manual. As proposed, it is a developers dream of general
suggestions for ‘shoulds, coulds and maybe’s’ , with no sanctions for any breach ,as opposed to list of ‘must, shall and
NTA’s critique has been accepted by Marine Scotland. It has been passed to the consultants for consideration into the further
drafting of the manual.
Renewable subsidy :-NTA has been a consistent advocate to UK and Scottish Government that Renewable subsidies –
especially for offshore wind – should be cut if they fail to come down in cost under strict time limits.
The Renewables Industry flagged up, 18 months ago, their commitment to a 2020 target of £100/mw to secure subsidy. Ever
since,the Renewables Industry has been back-tracking, blaming Government for the industries failure to meet its own targets!!
The Tiree Array site remains on a planning map,
as does the possible adoption of the OWW2
,and WW3 sites.
But dropping the proposed Tiree Array implies
that neither of these may be developed until the
required technology trajectory catches up.
It is speculated that this
may not be achieved till
2030-2040, by which time
global energy developments
may render theses sites
irrelevant and redundant.
Should the trajectory of global energy development, and global energy consumption render the original proposed Tiree (Array) and the proposed, for
adoption, OWW2/WW3 sites redundant, then NTA will have achieved its
Meanwhile the decision to drop the Array leaves Tiree to its stunning beauty,and spectacular seascapes .