GFG Alliance unveils new wind energy project to support development of Scottish Industry
The GFG Alliance, which is already investing hundreds of millions of pounds in Scottish and particularly Highlands industrial development, has unveiled plans to bring further benefits to the national and local economy through multiple projects for clean and renewable energy to support manufacturing.
The latest project proposal, announced today [Wednesday 6th Sept], is a wind farm to be developed by SIMEC Energy of up to 54 turbines at Glenshero in the Highlands that will generate up to 178MW of energy following a total investment programme of up to £170m.
SIMEC says the development of renewable energy across its estate lands will contribute valuable low-cost, low-carbon power for industrial schemes such as the GFG Alliance’s aluminium smelter and planned Fort William alloy wheels factory and its steel mills in Lanarkshire.
A key element of the Glenshero plan is that the steel for the required wind-tower structures could be rolled at Liberty’s Dalzell plant in Motherwell and possibly fabricated at a potential new neighbouring wind tower manufacturing facility.
Community and stakeholder involvement will be key to the project. Now that investment for the wind project has been given the green light by the GFG Strategy Board, it will proceed to the next step of consultation with the local community and a range of stakeholders, culminating in a planning application being submitted next year. GFG will also be seeking to bring the local community into the project with opportunities both for shared-ownership and discounted energy costs for local residents.
In addition to the wind energy project, the global GFG Alliance, which owns the Fort William aluminium smelter and associated hydro power stations, has also unveiled a broad spectrum of ideas for the use of its surrounding estate lands. These promise to add many more jobs to the hundreds of industrial posts it has already announced for the area.
GFG is seeking to discuss all of its proposals and ideas with a wide range of community groups and local stakeholders in the coming weeks and months, including:
- Major enhancement of the existing hydro power stations and examining scope for several further small-scale hydro plants around Lochaber and Kinlochleven.
- Investments to upgrade housing and visitor accommodation across the estate
- Development of high-grade facilities for tourists including accommodation and outdoor pursuits such as kayaking
- Major improvements to, and expansion of, farming, fishing and forestry across the estate
- A new helipad to serve both business and emergency services
- Support for individual enterprises related to agriculture, sport and recreation
- Improved access to the estate lands through better signage, parking and other facilities and improved management of natural habitats including peatlands
GFG said it intends to explore further individual projects with local communities and other stakeholders; potentially involving local residents directly in the delivery of projects through community enterprise models such as joint ventures or shared ownership. Part community ownership is one of the options up for discussion for projects, such as Glenshero, and the small-scale hydro schemes. There may be other community benefits such as discounts on energy bills for residents living in the vicinity of the proposed windfarm at Glenshero.
Jay Hambro, chief investment officer for the GFG Alliance and chief executive of SIMEC Energy commented: “Glenshero is a unique project in our portfolio. It would be built in an environment of zero subsidies, using steel rolled and finished in Scotland and then generate clean energy to support the Scottish metals industry. It is also an exciting opportunity for us to work with the local community and encourage their investment alongside our own. This is truly a win-win project for all parties.”
Duncan Mackison, newly-appointed chief executive of JAHAMA Highland Estates, the GFG division which manages and develops the estate lands, said: “We want to use the assets of the estate in the most productive way to maximise benefit for the local economy and residents. Our aim is a joined-up plan with the different elements working together. For example, the assets of the estate, in whatever form, would feed into our industrial developments to help us to be even more ambitious in our plans for new sustainable manufacturing.”
He said that GFG representatives had already undertaken extensive consultation with communities and stakeholders to identity regeneration opportunities in the Highlands, and the Group was now able to share a range of exciting project options, for further discussion. “We will engage with all local stakeholders to bring in those interested in investment in the wind project and make sure the local area shares the potential benefit of the energy generation,” he added.
Following these discussions, GFG hopes to publish a blueprint for a revival of the estate lands and reinvigoration of the whole Highland economy. “We look forward to awakening the sleeping giant that is the JAHAMA Highland Estate.” he said.