£2bn wind farm confirmed after legal battle
A 2bn wind farm project has finally been approved after a long legal battle with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
The farm, to be located 10 miles off the coast of Fife, in the east of Scotland, was initially granted planning approval along with three other projects in 2014 by ministers.
The Neart na Gaoithe was then challenged by RSPB Scotland as it allegedly endangered thousands of sea birds in the firths of Forth and Tay.
The charity won their first legal bid, however the ruling was later overturned by ministers.
Following this decision, the case was then taken to the Supreme Court by the RSPB, but was refused on 7 November.
The charity claimed it was “extremely disappointed” with the conclusion, but the renewable energy industry deemed it as a “significant step forward” for offshore wind projects.
“After more than two and a half years, two court hearings and two rejected applications for leave to appeal by RSPB Scotland, we can finally focus on delivering the very significant benefits this project brings to the Scottish economy and its environment,” reported Andy Kinsella, Chief Executive of Mainstream Renewable Power, the company behind the farm.
“In light of this refusal for permission to appeal we will be taking some time to consider all other options remaining to us,” commented Director of RSPB Scotland, Anne McCall.
“However, we are extremely disappointed with this decision, following nearly a decade’s worth of effort from RSPB Scotland to help deliver offshore wind in Scotland in a manner that respects one of the country’s most impressive and internationally renowned natural assets - its fantastic seabird colonies.”
Development on the wind project is expected to begin in 2018.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.