Chapter 2: Repowering
In our draft OWPS, the Scottish Government set out its view on several topics relating to repowering.
- Increasing efficiency and reducing costs: changes in the market are driving developers to design repowered sites to maximise efficiencies and increase returns.
- Maximising value: we recognise that advances in technology offer an opportunity to maximise the efficiency (and value) of individual sites, but there is also the scope to build on our distinct approach to energy policy and maximise value for Scotland in terms of economic, social and environmental benefits.
- Wider economic and social benefits: repowering offers an opportunity to further pursue additional Scottish Government policy aims - in particular, shared ownership with communities and the encouragement of local involvement and community benefit.
34. Many established onshore wind sites will be coming to the end of their consented life during the coming decade and beyond. As the need and demand for renewable power increases, we expect developers to review the potential for "repowering" at existing sites. This could be in the form of measures designed to extend the life of components and turbines at such sites, or replacing and replanting existing turbines with new turbines
35. The Scottish Government's position remains one of clear support in principle for repowering at existing sites. This is on the grounds of its potential to make the best use of existing sites, and - through the continued use of established infrastructure, grid connections and strong wind resource provide a cost effective option to deliver our renewable and decarbonisation targets.
36. We accept that repowering is a term that can be used or applied to mean a number of different things, depending on the nature and scale of what is being contemplated or proposed at any given site.
37. This is why - while recognising calls for repowering applications to be subject to a clear and distinct assessment process - we propose to continue to discuss and to assess the right approach to such applications on a case by case basis, in accordance with established process and principles. This means that the range of potential impacts and effects associated with any proposal can be properly assessed, and thus the level of environmental assessment, monitoring and information that may need to be undertaken and provided.
38. Applicants and consenting authorities will also benefit in many cases from readily available monitoring information on existing sites.
39. We have highlighted the particular interest of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in repowering, given its responsibilities and wider role in considering and advising upon impacts of onshore wind development on the natural heritage.
40. SNH is continuing, in liaison with Scottish Government and others, to develop guidance on repowering applications, encompassing advice on landscape and visual effects, visualisations, bird surveys and wider ecological assessments, and hopes to consult on their guidance in 2018. In the meantime, SNH will continue to advise on individual applications on a case by case basis.
Duration of Consent
41. It's worth noting in the context of this issue as a whole that there appears to be a common (although not universal) assumption that a 25 year lifetime limit is a requirement of the consent for all onshore wind applications. However, there are no current statutory or legislative limits to the duration of consent for a proposed development. Our approach, as now set out in SPP (2014), is that areas identified for wind farms should be suitable for use in perpetuity. The operating period of an individual wind farm is a matter which developers can consider and discuss prior to the submission of an application. It should be noted that this does not remove the need for decommissioning provisions, where considered appropriate.
Shared Ownership / Community Benefits
42. Our Good Practice Principles on shared ownership and community benefits were not in place when many of the early wind farms were consented. However, since their introduction, they have been embraced by developers and communities alike.
43. The Scottish Government would encourage developers to renegotiate community benefits and /or shared ownership arrangements, or introduce new discussions on these aspects, at an early stage of any repowering application or decision, and to do so in line with these good practice principles.