St Andrew’s University is aiming to generate all of its energy with a planned 12MW off-site wind farm comprising six medium-sized turbines.
After a three-year investigation and scientific study of wind levels, the university has submitted plans for the wind farm at land it owns on Kenly Farm near Boarhills.
The university said that, despite reducing its energy consumption in recent years, rising national and international costs of energy have seen its bills triple since 2005 to £5.4m a year.
‘This increase in costs is equivalent to the salaries of up to 120 full-time staff at St Andrew’s and is a major financial risk for us,’ said Derek Watson, quaestor and factor of the university.
‘Doing nothing is not an option. We would prefer to determine our own financial fate than have it determined for us by the vagaries of international energy markets. Our consumption is on a flat line but we are being charged more and more for it,’ he added.
The long-term monitoring of wind speeds at Kenly showed that it was possible to generate enough electricity to meet the needs of the energy-intensive scientific operations of the university situated at the North Haugh and the rest of the institution’s electricity demand.
The renewable energy generated at Kenly, the site of an abandoned Second World War airbase, would be equivalent to the average annual consumption of 8,500 typical domestic properties in Fife.
The university examined two potential options for Kenly — a layout of four larger turbines, each generating 3MW, and a layout of six smaller turbines, each generating approximately 2MW.
Both options were assessed as part of a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which has been submitted as part of the planning application. Public feedback persuaded the university to choose the second option of six smaller machines.
The EIA also includes data on potential noise, ecology, radar and aviation, construction and traffic impacts, as well as an examination of the possible positive and negative effects of the wind farm on archaeology, cultural heritage and economic and tourism aspects.