Today’s Windpower Wednesday Photo of the Day honours last Saturday, May 26, 2018. Against the wishes of an American golf course developer, the final turbine was installed in the Aberdeen offshore wind farm.
Normally we like to highlight photographs for their artistic treatment of windpower, but this week we will concentrate on the story behind the windpower. The image of the wind farm comes from renewable energy giant Vattenfall and the other image comes from trumpdonald.org
Back in 2003, when offshore wind farms were just starting to become a viable renewable energy source, the Swedish firm Vattenfall applied to build a farm just off the shores of Aberdeen Scotland.
Three years later a Manhattan condo developer started purchasing golf properties and bought an estate north of Aberdeen, the Menie Estate, with plans to build a hotel and golf course.
The developer has a knack for sowing controversy and discord wherever he ventures, and the fights with the local vilagers and environmentalists began almost immediately. His plans involved massive disruption to the natural landscape in the service of turning 600 acres of rugged Scottish cliffs, dunes and grasslands into an ‘International Golf Links’ bearing his name.
Numerous court battles ensued between the developer and locals. There were accusations of bullying tactics being used to pressure people into selling land adjacent to the property and a local fisherman refused a $690,000 offer and become a small national hero.
Almost immediately on purchase in 2006 the developer also loudly announced his disdain for the wind farm project, saying “I am not thrilled. I want to see the ocean, I do not want to see windmills.”
He filed a complaint to the Scottish government in 2011, when construction plans were submitted, railing against “the horrible idea of building ugly wind turbines directly off Aberdeen’s beautiful coastline.”
The first phase of the golf development was completed in 2012 and the wind farm’s construction plans were approved in 2013.
Many tactics were used to try to stop the farm
This prompted a law suit and a public vow from the developer to “spend whatever monies are necessary to see to it that these huge and unsightly industrial wind turbines are never constructed.”
He also vowed to withdraw investments from other properties he owned in Scotland. Despite much speculation and investigation, it has never been clear where the developer – who suffered very serious financial losses in the 1990s – was able to access money for all the investments.
The developer, who also has a twitter account, tried to get public sentiment on his side and said in one tweet that “Not only are wind farms disgusting looking, but even worse they are bad for people’s health”, citing a decision regarding a wind farm in Wisconsin.
Lifegate magazine reported other tactics:
“he commissioned an advert with the caption ‘Welcome to Scotland’ over a picture of a large dilapidated wind farm. The advert was eventually banned after it was revealed that the picture was actually part of a decommissioned wind farm in the US state of Hawaii.
In this same advert he remained true to his offensive style by linking (then Scottish Prime Minister) Alex Salmond to convicted Libyan terrorist Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and claiming the turbines were “inefficient”, “bird killing” and “Chinese made”.
Soon after this the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) approved the project.”
At any rate, the lawsuit and succeeding attempts at intervention were unsuccessful. The UK Supreme Court determined in 2015 that the wind farm should proceed.
On Saturday May 26, 2018, the final turbines were installed in Vattenenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC). It will prevent 130,000 metric tonnes of carbon emission and generate the equivalent of 70% of Aberdeen’s electricity demand.
More about the Aberdeen Bay wind farm
The wind installation itself is a marvel of engineering and technology.
It is first commercial project to use a new style of foundation, each of which weigh almost as much as 10 Boeing 747 aircraft.
The turbines are 190 metres tall (625 feet, about the height of a 40 storey building) with each blade being longer than a Boeing 747 wingspan. The rotor they are mounted on has a circumference larger than that of the London Eye (165 m).
First power from the project wil be generated early this summer.