Two potential sites – Sulby and Druidale in the north and Earystane and Scards in the south – have been earmarked for the multi-million pound project which will play a key role in the government’s ambitious target to decarbonise the island’s electricity supply by 2030.
A third site – West Baldwin and Injebreck – was identified by consultants but subsequently ruled out due to access problems.
Under the proposals, for which planning and Tynwald approval will need to be sought, seven to 10 wind turbines could be installed around Sulby reservoir and Druidale. Alternatively, four or five turbines could be erected at a more visible site at Earystane and Scards.
Each would be 150m, the height of Blackpool Tower. The island’s highest structure is currently the 95m stack at Pulrose power station.
Located in a natural bowl, the Sulby site has a lower wind speed of 8.5m per second compared to more than 10m per second at Earystane, and its output would be correspodingly lower at 81GWh per year compared to 105-130GWh at the southern site.
Sulby would generate enough electricity to power 21,000 homes while Earystane could meet a third of island annual demand.
But Manx Utilities chairman Tim Crookall said he expected there would be more negative reaction to the latter, from residents in the south of the island, given it will be far more visible.
He said: ‘Over the last couple of years we started out with over 50 sites and it came down to 32 whih we really closely look at.
‘The issue we have is the site at Sulby is quite well hidden but provides less wind for the turbines whereas down at Earystane and Scards it is obviously much more visible but it is actually much windier down there so it much more beneficial for the wind turbines. So we now have that dilemma. We have got a lot more testing to do on the ground and environmental testing.’
Working with the Department of Infrastructure, Manx Utilities has also identified more than 30 sites suitable for generating solar power on government-owned land and buildings. This includes five sites generating 1 to 2MW each and 21 sites producing less than 0.5MW each.
The first phase will see solar panels installed at the National Sports Centre ,Noble’s Hospital and the Sea Terminal over the next year, using the roof spaces and car parks. This will generate 4.3MW with more sites identified to meet a target of 10KW of solar power by 2026.
Other projects are being worked on to meet the 2030 decarbonised target including a second subsea interconnector, consideration of clean controllable generatiors and a potential connection to an onshore windfarm.