ISLAND PLAN: Publicly-owned renewable projects progressing on target to deliver 30MW of renewables for the Isle of Man by 2026

Earystane & Scards

Manx Utilities has today announced it is on schedule to deliver a 20 Megawatt windfarm and 10 Megawatts of solar power in 2026, as set out within Isle of Man Government’s Island Plan.

Studies commissioned by Manx Utilities have identified that the appropriate level of renewable electricity generation, which can maintain secure supplies, is presently up to 40 Megawatts. 

Public ownership of the new renewables using publicly owned estate should also enable the quickest delivery and lowest end-user cost, ensuring all customers benefit equally from renewable generation. Alongside an anticipated 10 Megawatts of private domestic and commercial installations, Manx Utilities’ renewable projects will take installed renewable capacity on-Island to the 40 Megawatts target.

Two sites have been identified as potentially suitable to deliver a 20 Megawatt windfarm: Sulby & Druidale in the north and Earystane & Scards in the south of the Island.  These sites closely match the criteria to access the best quality wind resource, acceptable delivery timescale, and lowest cost to consumers.  An onshore windfarm of this scale could deliver up to 30% of the Island’s electricity needs, subject to final designs.

Sulby & Druidale

A decision on which site to take forward will be made following completion of the further environmental and technical appraisals by the end of this summer.  The next phase of work will involve a full Environmental Impact Assessment for the preferred site to ensure issues identified are suitably addressed, completion of a design package and a tender exercise for the manufacturing of wind turbines.  All of this would of course be followed by a full planning application process which would need to be complete before on-site works can commence. 

Working with the Department of Infrastructure, Manx Utilities has identified over 30 sites suitable to deliver a total of 30 Megawatts of solar power on the public estate.  The first phase of solar installations will see five projects being progressed with more sites to be identified to reach the 10 Megawatt objective.  Sites identified in phase one are the NSC (two projects), Noble’s Hospital (two projects) and the Sea Terminal (one project) and will utilise roof space and car parks, thereby minimising ecological impact.  It is intended that solar installations will be delivered by local business specialists.

Alongside the solar and wind projects, Manx Utilities is working on a variety of other key projects which support the wider Isle of Man Government target of 100% decarbonised electricity by 2030.  These include a second subsea interconnector, consideration of clean controllable generators which will provide an additional level of resilience and security of supply, along with a potential connection to an offshore windfarm.

Finally, an updated green tariff has been developed for commercial customers which will provide businesses with access to certification to demonstrate the purchase of renewable electricity to meet their Environmental, Social and Governance objectives.  Customers are also able to provide renewable generation for their own use through Manx Utilities’ sustainable generation tariff.

The delivery of these major projects will meet Manx Utilities’ formal objectives within the Island Plan. The 30MW onshore renewable projects alongside a second interconnector and planned carbon neutral on-demand generation projects will fully meet our target of decarbonised electricity by 2030.

NEWS RELEASE

03 October 2023

Island Onshore Windfarm Progresses to Environmental Impact Assessment at Earystane & Scard

Manx Utilities’ Board have endorsed a recommendation to progress the Earystane & Scard site to the Environmental Impact Assessment and Design stage.  Based on initial assessments undertaken by Wardell Armstrong this site appears to offer the best value to the electricity consumers of the Isle of Man with the lowest environmental impact when compared to the other option sites.

The Earystane & Scard location is one of the windiest locations in the Isle of Man and presents an excellent resource with anticipated wind speeds in excess of 10 metres per second.  This would mean that five turbines could potentially deliver up to 130GWh per year; enough to meet one third of the Island’s annual demand. 

The next phase of work involves a full Environmental Impact Assessment focussing on twelve key impact areas.  These areas will cover Social (local stakeholders), Noise, Landscape & Visual, Ecology, Energy & Climate, Airport, Water & Flood, Transport, Air Quality, Geotechnical, Heritage & Archaeology, Planning and importantly provides for consultation with the local community.

The consultation process will enable Island residents the opportunity to find out more about the project, how impacts would be managed and how to actively participate in the design.  The Environmental Impact Assessment is expected to be completed in 2025 prior to submission of a planning application.

In January 2023, the Council of Ministers supported Manx Utilities proposals to progress actions to deliver onshore renewable energy through a 20MW onshore windfarm, as well as 10MW solar deployed across rooftops and car parks on the public estate.  These objectives are outlined in the Isle of Man Government Island Plan, Energy Strategy and support the requirements of the Climate Plan 2022-2027.

In March 2023, specialist consultants Wardell Armstrong were appointed to carry out an environmental and technical appraisal of three sites in Government ownership on the Isle of Man, to assess the feasibility of delivering a 20MW onshore windfarm by 2026 and to make a recommendation on which site should be taken forward to the next stage of assessments.

A SODAR (Sonic Detection and Ranging Device) has already been installed in Earystane Plantation where all turbines are expected to be located to monitor wind speed over the next 12 months.  It is intended to move the device to Sulby & Druidale after the 12-month period to provide data for any possible future development after 2026.  Bird and bat surveys have also commenced at Earystane & Scard and will last for a minimum of 18 months to ensure two seasons of data have been gathered.

Information on planned public engagement sessions for both the local community and Island residents will be publicised.  Further information on the Energy Transition for the Island can be found at www.manxutilities.im.

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8 November 2023                                                 

Island Onshore Windfarm programme - Surveys

Surveys are to commence to support the Environmental Impact Assessment programme for an Onshore Windfarm for the Island.

These surveys have been commissioned by Manx Utilities’ Consultants Wardell Armstrong.  The surveys are expected to take place in the latter half of November and early December.  Some are weather dependent and therefore it is not possible to be date-specific

Castletown Bay - Bathymetric survey:

Bathymetric surveys are surveys of features present underwater, aiming to map the details of the terrain and feed into the Marine Transport element of the Environmental Impact Assessment.

Subject to licencing approvals, this will involve scanning the seabed utilising a shallow boat together with a walked topographical survey for areas where the boat cannot reach due to it being too shallow.  This work will aid the design and specification of a landing craft, in the event one should be needed to bring turbines ashore.  It does not relate to construction of a landing platform, which has been ruled out.

The walked aspect of the survey will record the elevations, slopes and angles of the beach utilising standard survey equipment and GPS.

Figure 1: Example of Survey Vessel

Figure 2: Survey Location - Castletown Beach

Intertidal survey:

Intertidal surveys involve a team of two surveyors walking on the intertidal areas to collect samples of sand etc with a hand-held sediment corer device.  The information gathered for this element of the survey work informs the Marine Preliminary Ecological appraisal, should a beach landing be required at Castletown.

A permit is required for this survey work. 

Figure 3: Example of sediment corer

Samples will be taken from upper, mid and lower levels as shown below, providing weather conditions allow:

Figure 4: intertidal survey area

Preliminary Ecological Appraisal:

A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal will be undertaken to record and map broad habitat types and dominant plant species along the two potential routes to Earystane & Scard (from Douglas Port and Castletown Beach).  This information will be included in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

Work will involve surveyors walking the transport routes.

Figure 5: Transport routes

Preliminary Site Investigation – Earystane & Scard:

Preliminary site investigation work will commence at the Earystane & Scard site to obtain samples for laboratory testing of ground conditions which will feed into the Environmental Impact Assessment.  Contractors will utilise a small sample drilling rig (about the size of a quadbike) to minimise any impact.

Samples are collected along the access routes and as close to intended turbine locations as possible.

Figure 6: Example of a small sampling rig

Work is currently scheduled to commence in late November for a duration of three weeks between the hours of 9am and 4pm during weekdays. This may move back to early 2024 depending on site conditions.

Acoustic survey – Earystane & Scard:

Noise emissions data survey equipment has been put in place previously and will be removed by 10 November 2023 as this work has been completed.

Topographical survey:

A topographical survey of roads and particular street furniture will be undertaken via drone where possible or via hand-held GPS inspection where tree cover limits drone visibility.  This survey will help to inform the transport routes aspect of the Environmental Impact Assessment.

The surveys will involve specialised drones and surveying GPS equipment, as appropriate. Examples being:

Figure 7: Example of Drones used for surveying

The information will be collected utilising a route from both Douglas to Earystane & Scard and Castletown to Earystane & Scard:

 

Work has already commenced and is expected to be completed by 24 November.  The relevant permissions have been granted, particularly in relation to drone work in and around Ronaldsway.