Renewable Energy Tours in Scotland

Scotland has always had a huge appeal for visitors because of its breath-taking landscape and awe-inspiring scenery.  From the untouched beauty of its Highlands to cities rich with architecture, Scotland has it all. In the past decade, Scotland has added another feather in the cap. It  not only caters to sustainable tourism but actively promotes it.  Through “Green Tourism Award” scheme,  many tourist accommodation businesses have adopted green practices. Even many commercial concerns that have successfully incorporated renewable energy into their energy mix to the extent that some  are Grid independent. There are many  locations where renewable energy projects can be visited by individuals or school/college groups. Tours to such locations are good for dispelling some of the myths that surround renewable energy,  such as wind turbines being noisy. They also help to connect people with nature and reinforce the concept that energy through renewable is the way forward.

Whitelee Wind farm

Whitelee wind farm towards to south of Glasgow was at one point the biggest on-shore wind farm in Europe. Its current nameplate capacity is 539 MW.   The windfarm is located in Eagleshams moor. The farm has actively tried to protect the flora and fauna and the wild animal species  on the site and the surroundings.  With over 200 turbines, the Whitelee wind farm spans over a vast area that wasn’t agricultural land but marshy land with peat bogs.  For visitors, the site not only has tracks, but also artificial lakes and 90 km path for  cyclists. It also has a visitors centre which allows a host of activities. It has become the hub for eco-tourists in Scotland, with over 250,000 visitors the site since its inauguration. No only one can enjoy the site of turbines while sipping away on a cup of coffee in their coffee shop but at the same time check out what power is being produced. The site is open seven days a week.

Travel:  The wind farm is only accessible by road and lies just off A77. The Post code for the location is G76 0QQ. More details can be accessed from this link.

Pitlochry Hydro Power

Based in the beautiful county of Perthshire, Pitlochry is an idyllic town that is popular with both native and foreign holiday makers. Nestled on the river bank of this town is a  hydro power project (15 MW). Unlike most dams, this project also has a Salmon ladder that allows fish to migrate upstream for spawning. Both the hydropower project and the fish ladder are open to public. The visitor center attracts over 500,000 visitors every year.  The Salmon’s trip up the ladder is viewable through glass chambers.  If you are lucky, you can also see Salmon leap on the down stream end, which is a sight to behold indeed.

Pitlochry Hydro Project

Pitlochry Hydro Project: A view from downstream

Travel:  Pitlochry is 2 hour drive away from Edinburgh and lies on the A924. Further details can be accessed from this link .

Cruachan Hydro Power

Crucachan is the largest pumped storage facility in Scotland. The total capacity of the project is 440 MW and annual generation amounts to 705 GWh.  It has a visitor center facility and receives over 50,000 visitors a day. Guided tours are available that take you deep inside the hollow of the mountain at Cruachan.  It takes a long time to reach Cruachan from population centers, however the breathtaking scenery make the travel worth the visit.

Cruachan Powerstation

Cruachan Powerstation on the Banks of Loch Awe

Cruachan visitor center provides a host of interactive activities for children and also houses a café.

Travel:  Cruachan comes in the administrative area of Argyle and Bute. It is located in the west of Scotland,  on the north bank of Loch Awe, 19 miles east of Oban on the A85. The facility can be accessed by road or by rail (Cruachan Railway Station is nearby).  More details can be accessed from this link.

Isle of Eigg

The Hebridean Isle of Eigg is renowned for its tranquility and rugged landscape. One feature that makes the Island unique among all other Scottish Islands  is that its  power is completely supplied by renewables.  The Island has an energy mix based on Hydro, Wind and Solar energy. The Island also has an energy storage system that can store enough energy to power the Island for two days. The Island’s energy usage was transformed by its residents after the community buy out in 2008. Previously, the peaceful serenity was perturbed by the clunky noise of diesel generators, which was the only source of electricity.

Isle of Eigg

Isle of Eigg: 100% Renewable Energy Island

Travel: The Island can be accessed by Ferry service alone. Schedule for Calmac Ferries can be accessed from this link.  The accommodation on the Island is limited. Travel arrangements must be made beforehand.

Apple Fuels

Although not scenic at all as the above mentioned locations, but if one is interested in the fascinating procedure of converting waste to fortune than a trip to Apple fuels is worth it.

Fried food in Scotland is the nation’s favourite. With Chippys and Fried chicken shops in every down town corner, there is a lot of waste cooking oil produced. This waste oil can be converted into bio-diesel, and can be used  in many cars, vans, lorries. It should be noted that many new diesel engines, particularly one that were produced after 2007, aren’t compatible with Bio-diesel.

Apple Fuels in the east end of Glasgow just does that. It collects waste oil and reprocesses it to convert into bio-diesel. Glycerine is also produced as a by-product. Apple Fuels have a wide customer base, from van drivers to green enthusiasts. The owner of apple fuels believes that living a sustainable life and living cheaply should not be mutually exclusive. Their diesel is not only cleaner to burn but also is cheaper than the price at the pumps. Although Apple fuel welcomes visitors and in particular customers, but it is advisable to call beforehand and let them know about the visit and the size of the group as arrangements will have to be made for health and safety reasons.

Travel:  Apple Fuels is located just off M74 on the South East of Glasgow.  Further information can be obtained from this link.

Further Reading

Why Scotland is the best place to study Renewables

100% Renewable Power, what is next for Scotland

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