Whitelee windfarm

Europe’s largest onshore windfarm project with an initial 140 wind turbines has officially been completed at Whitelee in Scotland.

ScottishPower Renewables‘ Whitelee windfarm will produce 322MW of electricity to power 180,000 homes. The 55km2 site, which is located 15km from Glasgow, will initially consist of 140 turbines.

A proposal to extend the number of these turbines to generate 130MW extra power was approved on 20 May by the Scottish government. It is expected this will provide electricity for an additional 70,000 homes.

ScottishPower Renewables is also carrying out scoping work on a potential second extension, which could add a further 140MW. It is anticipated that an official planning application will be submitted for this later in the summer. This would mean a total capacity of nearly 600MW.

It is estimated there are more than 500,000 people living within a 30km radius of Whitelee windfarm. This is one of the first major windfarms to be constructed close to a large population centre, and an increasing supply of renewable energy has been fed directly into these areas since the site first started exporting power in January 2008.

As well as the physical construction of the turbines, the £300m project has seen the creation of a 90km floating road network and the connection of more than 970km of cables to link the turbines to the National Grid. A £2m visitor centre is in the process of being completed.

It is estimated that at its peak, more than 500 people were working on-site and more than 1,820,000 working hours have been spent constructing the windfarm. ScottishPower Renewables believes both the first extension and planned second extension could create a further 300 jobs.

Ignacio Galán, chairman of ScottishPower, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, described Whitelee as a milestone in the history of Scotland.

He said: ‘Iberdrola is fully committed to all the markets where it is active and aspires to be an engine for development and growth. Iberdrola is committed to helping Scotland and the UK fully realise its renewable energy potential as we seek to create wealth and prosperity through our investments and local procurement, and also by creating jobs.

‘The excellent location of Whitelee has always meant that it would be possible to extend the windfarm, and we are delighted that the Scottish government has approved our plans to do so.’

The windfarm at Whitelee has been a decade in the making, after the site was first identified in 1999. The project required consultation with an array of stakeholders. During this process, ScottishPower Renewables agreed to construct a new radar station for Glasgow airport on the site of a disused power station in Kincardine following concerns about potential technical issues.