Wind turbines now set to hit new heights

Wind turbines in the future may be taller still.
Wind turbines in the future may be taller still.

Energy companies are starting to ask to put up larger turbines as high as 200m on existing wind farms rather than build new developments, and South Lanarkshire Council is now looking at changing its planning guidelines to cope with that change of tack.

It is going to consult renewable energy operators and developers, associated community councils and other interested third parties about wind turbines more than 150 metres high with a view to drawing up new policies.

Councillors on its planning committee have been told that South Lanarkshire already has many wind energy developments, restricting its capacity for development.

“Repowering of existing wind farms is also likely to become more prevalent, and increasingly taller turbines are now being considered when developers are both assessing the repowering of existing developments or new wind energy developments,” Michael McGlynn, executive director, said in a report to them.

“In June 2015, the UK Government announced the end of all financial support for onshore wind energy developments.

“As a result, many wind energy developments that have obtained planning consent, but are not yet built and are unable to access subsidies, are now considered unviable.

“Developers are, therefore, reviewing these consents, and to increase the yield from these wind energy developments, they are proposing to increase the height of turbines and revise their layout.”

The council’s guidelines were approved in February last year, but based on wind turbines when the tallest category was 120 metres high or more. That reflected the size of turbines erected in many of the wind farms operating at the time, as well as the height of turbines proposed at that time in planning applications.

Councillors were told that the new guidelines would have to include a category for turbines of 150 to 200 metres and the impact those taller ones would have on a landscape.