East Lothian ‘Smart’ wind turbines trials

Tuesday December 7th 2021


Artist's impression of how the windsurf turbines could look.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

New ‘smart’ wind turbines which could save the lives of wildlife and produce more power are set to be trialled for the first time in East Lothian.

A scaled down prototype of the new windsurf turbine would be placed at the former Cockenzie Power Station site as part of an 18-month trial, under new plans submitted to the local council.

The innovative design of the turbine has been described by Edinburgh-based producers Swift TG Energy Ltd as a ‘game-changer’.

Designer Sam Dickinson said the company has worked for years to come up with a design which would be more productive, generate less noise and reduce risk to wildlife.

He said: “This is a very early prototype we are testing, it is a new form of aerodynamics.

“It will have less of an environmental impact on bird life and noise. If it works it will be a game changer.”

The firm has applied for planning permission to place a miniature version of the new windsurf turbine on the power station site for 18 months to monitor its effectiveness.

Dickinson said the length of time would give them a full year’s access to trialling the turbine in all seasons on the exposed coastal site.

The turbine itself, which he describes as looking like an upside down egg whisk, features five blades which are electronically operated and computer controlled.

The smart technology allows the computer to move the blades with the wind to gain maximum energy from it as well as monitoring for any kind of impact.

Sam compared it to having Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie at the helm of five sails controlling them in the wind during a race to get the best performance.

And he said: “The technology involved means that if there was an impact from a bird it would instantly shut down and we would know it had happened. The same if it was struck by a JCB.

“This differs from the rotary turbines which continue to rotate.”

It is understood the company has agreed with East Lothian Council ahead of any planning consent that should an incident occur onsite involving the death of a bird or breach of noise levels the trial will shut down.

The company has worked with RSPB experts in designing the turbine which Sam said has been years in the making.

He said: “This is the first time we are putting our heads over the parapet, as such, with this prototype and publicly revealing our work.”

The application is for the siting of the ‘novel’ wind turbine on the site for 18 months only to trial it. A mobile office and chemical toilet would also be onsite for that duration.

It would require a 33 square metre area in the north of the former power station site to be fenced off for the duration.

Plans are with East Lothian Council and can be viewed on the planing portal.

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