Scottish first minister Alex Salmond is today due to switch on the latest phase of the £300M Whitelee windfarm on Eaglesham Moor in East Renfrewshire, bringing the installed capacity to 322MW - enough to power 180,000 homes.
The 140 turbine wind farm is owned by Socttish Power, who already have plans to increase capacity further with an additional 81 turbines. The application for the first 36 of them is being considered by the Scottish government.
With the 140 turbines now installed, the company plans to carry out remedial work on the 90km road network that they have constructed as part of the project, complete the necessary site reinstatement works and finish a £2M state-of-the-art visitor centre. The site will then be opened to the public later in the summer, making it one of Scotland’s largest eco-tourist attractions.
Keith Anderson, Director of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Our project management team and our contractor, Morrison Balfour Kilpatrick joint venture, have developed techniques and a level of expertise that allows us to work effectively in difficult terrain and under testing conditions, and this understanding has helped to keep the project firmly on track.
“To complete Europe’s largest onshore windfarm ahead of schedule is a major achievement. A windfarm on this scale has never been attempted before, and every one of the 500 people who have worked on the project deserves huge credit. First electricity generation from the site was achieved in January 2008 and since then we have been feeding a steadily increasing amount of green energy into the electricity grid. This substantial amount of green energy will be beneficial to the local area and will make a significant contribution towards national renewable energy targets.”
The site at Whitelee was first identified by ScottishPower Renewables a decade ago, and planning consent was awarded in 2006. In order to achieve planning permission, the company constructed a new radar station for Glasgow Airport following concerns about potential interference. During this period, the company also outlined its habitat management plan for the site. In total the site has 25km² of actively managed habitat to promote blanket bog and moorland regeneration, improving conditions for Black Grouse, Red Grouse, wading birds and upland wildlife.
When completed later this summer the visitor centre will be the first of its kind in the UK. It will include an exhibition area explaining the construction of the windfarm and a unique renewable energy education centre which will be operated by specially trained staff. As part of the company’s plans to make the site fully accessible, tours of the windfarm will also be available for visitors, and plans are being made to introduce eco-friendly buses powered by electricity generated from the site.
Whitelee at a glance
- ScottishPower Renewables is the largest generator and developer of wind energy in the UK.
- Covering an area of 55km, Whitelee is one of the largest construction sites in the world.
- 970km of cables have been laid at the site to connect the turbines.
- Each turbine is 110m high.
- 2.1M.m3 of rock has been taken from borrow pits on the site and used in roads and construction.
- A planning application has been submitted to extend the windfarm by a further 36 turbines, which would take the overall capacity to 452MW. This is currently being considered by the Scottish Government.