- £300 million windfarm will power 180,000 homes
- Further extensions could create up to 300 green collar jobs and bring installed capacity up to 600 MW
- Iberdrola Renovables, the world’s leading wind power developer with nearly 9,700 MW of installed capacity, considers Scotland and the UK core markets in its current and future growth plans
Scottish Power’s Chairman Ignacio Galán was joined today by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond MSP to celebrate the completion of ScottishPower Renewables’ Whitelee Windfarm, Europe’s largest onshore wind power project.
The initial 140 turbines situated across the 55 km2 site will be capable of producing up to 322MW of electricity – enough to power over 180,000 homes and the equivalent of displacing 500,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. A proposal to extend this by another 130 MW has today been approved by the Scottish Government, thus powering an additional 70,000 homes. In addition, the company 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 near 600 MW.
In its position 370 metres above sea level, 15km to Glasgow, there are over 500,000 people living within a 30km radius of Whitelee. This is one of the first major windfarms to be constructed close to large population centres, and an ever 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 £300 million project has also seen the creation of a 90km floating* road network and the connection of over 970km of cables to link the turbines to the national grid. A £2m state-of-the-art visitor centre is also in the process of being completed.
At its peak over 500 people were working on-site and more than 1,820,000 working hours have been spent constructing the windfarm. It is thought that both the first extension and planned second extension could create a further 300 green collar jobs.
Switching on one of the final turbines at Whitelee today, Galán, said: “Whitelee is a milestone in the history of Scotland, not only representing the largest wind farm in Europe but also one of the largest in the world.”
“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.”
ScottishPower, part of the Iberdrola Group, has a 9,000-strong workforce in the UK, and registered revenues in the country of nearly £7 billion last year. It invested around £800 million in Scotland in 2008 and made purchases of more than £1 billion from around 2,400 Scottish suppliers.
Commenting Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond MSP said:
“Today we announce further investment, more jobs and greater progress of Scotland’s clean, green energy revolution.
“Our potential for electricity generation from renewables is up to 60GW - more than ten times our peak demand. We have launched the world’s greatest single prize for innovation in marine energy, the £10 million Saltire Prize; we are developing and applying clean fossil fuel technology; we have an unrivalled competitive advantage in carbon capture and storage; we have approved Siadar, one of the largest wave energy projects on the planet; as well as developing and consenting hydro and biomass projects. Harnessing all these opportunities has the potential to create more than 16,000 jobs in Scotland over the next decade.
“Whitelee in its current form is already flying the flag for onshore wind power in Europe. The planned extension, which I am delighted to announce today, will enable the windfarm to harness its comparative and competitive advantage in wind generated energy within Europe. It has the infrastructure, the expertise and the capacity to continue to develop in the future.
“During its initial construction, the windfarm employed more than 500 people and ploughed £300 million investment directly into the Scottish economy. The benefits of this investment go beyond East Renfrewshire and beyond our real economy. It is an investment in Scotland’s potential and ambition to lead the clean, green energy revolution.”
The windfarm at Whitelee has been a decade in the making, after the site was first identified in 1999. To plan a project on this scale required in-depth consultation with a wide and varied group of stakeholders. During this process, SPR 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.
A working group was also formed with the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Forestry Commission to develop a 25km2 habitat management area. The key aim of this group is to enhance the landscape and create an environmental legacy for the site rather than simply minimising the impact of the project. The group are working to promote blanket bog and moorland regeneration and improve conditions for native species such as Black and Red Grouse as well as a variety of wading birds and upland wildlife.
Now that construction is drawing to a close, finishing work will be carried out on the road network and the £2m state-of-the-art visitor centre will be completed. The visitor centre will be the first of its kind in the UK and 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. The site will be fully opened to the public later in the summer, making it one of Scotland’s largest eco-tourist attractions.
Iberdrola is one of the main utilities in the UK, where its subsidiary ScottishPower is the third biggest distributor of electricity. ScottishPower Renewables is the largest wind power operator in the UK with a capacity today of nearly 760 MW, accounting for more than 7% of the Group total worldwide and sufficient to power 425,000 homes. It has a project pipeline of 5,100 MW in the UK, and will in the next few months start construction on around 400 MW.
Iberdrola Renovables, parent company of ScottishPower Renewables, is world leader in wind power** with a total installed capacity of 9,624 MW at the end of March 2009. It has the largest project pipeline in the world (56,000 MW***), with a wide geographical diversification.
Notes to Editors:
- * All roads on site have been specially laid so as not to break the surface of peat-land areas and disrupt the flow of natural water courses. The roads are constructed with stone taken from the site on top of layers of geogrid.
- After almost doubling its installed capacity in 2008, SPR now produces approximately 760MW of electricity from wind power – enough to power 425,000 homes. The company also has a pipeline of over 5,100 MW in the UK, and 400MW and has already received consent with construction due to begin in the following months.
- The Iberdrola Group, including ScottishPower Renewables, is the world largest developer of wind power. (Source: New Energy Finance)
- ScottishPower Renewables is the largest generator and developer of wind energy in the UK.
- 1,827,260 working hours have been spent on the site at Whitelee.
- At its peak, 500 workers were on-site at Whitelee.
- 2.1 million cubic metres of rock have been taken from borrow pits on the site and used in roads and construction.
- Each blade weighs 12 tonnes, each section of tower 40 tonnes, the nacelle weighs 86 tonnes, and the hub weighs 26 tonnes.
- Each foundation is dug to a minimum of 3.5 metres.
- 970 kilometres of cables have been laid at the site to connect the turbines.
- 96 dumpertrucks were used during construction.
- 90km of roads have been built as part of the project.
- At full speed the blade rotates at 120mph.
- There are two rotor sizes 93m and 82m.
- The swept area on the 93m rotor is the same size as most football pitches.
- Approximately 73 tonnes of air pass through the rotor every second (average of 20mph wind speeds).
** Source: New Energy Finance
*** Including 10,000 MW contributed by Gamesa through a strategic agreement
Simon McMillan 0141 566 4875 / 07753 622 257
Paul Ferguson 0141 566 4515 / 07702 665 924