Scotland Starts Work on 140-Turbine Onshore Windfarm

Construction began this week on the 322-megawatt (MW) Whitelee windfarm project in Scotland. The onshore windfarm — with its planned 140 wind turbines — is part of the country’s aggressive goal to have 18 percent of electricity generated in Scotland come from renewable sources by 2010 and 40 percent by 2020.

Situated south of Glasgow on 55 sq. km of open moorland, the GPB 300 million [US$560 million] windfarm will be operated by Scottish Power. The project is expected to become operational in 2008 and, when completed in summer 2009, produce more than two percent of the country’s annual electricity needs. “Within three years, 140 turbines will rise above Eaglesham Moor, harnessing enough wind energy to power 200,000 homes, that’s most of Glasgow. It will be the largest onshore windfarm in Europe and make a major contribution to our twin aims of securing energy supplies and tackling climate change,” said Alistair Darling, UK Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), at the official groundbreaking ceremony on October 9. “Scotland has long been the UK’s powerhouse and is now establishing itself in the vanguard on renewables. 16% of Scotland’s electricity already comes from these sources, compared to 4% for the UK as a whole, and Whitelee will save a further 250,000 tons of harmful CO2 every year,” added Darling. Before getting the official green light earlier this year, the proposed development had to overcome a number of issues including concern about its impact on air traffic control radars at Glasgow Airport. Working with the British Airports Authority, National Air Traffic Services, and the Civil Aviation Authority, ScottishPower agreed to build a new radar tower in a nearby city to ensure there would be no adverse effect on equipment. “As Europe’s largest onshore wind farm, Whitelee represents a great step forward for the UK in tackling climate change, and is crucial to meeting the Government’s targets for green energy,” said Philip Bowman, ScottishPower Chief Executive. “Of course, Whitelee is not the end of the story. If we are to deliver more clean energy to people’s homes, we have really got to keep up the momentum on the other big onshore wind farms in Scotland, which are currently in planning,” added Bowman. In conjunction with the groundbreaking, government officials announced they would send out proposals and consult with industry, investors and other stakeholders on how to reach the aim set out in the DTI Energy Review of getting 20 percent of the UK’s electricity from renewable energy by 2020. “The Energy Review found that if we want to tackle climate change and ensure the security of our future supplies there has to be a significant increase in the amount of clean, green electricity we produce from renewable sources,” said Darling. “There is no doubt that reaching 20 percent will be tough. It means we must get more power from offshore wind farms and other emerging technologies like biomass and wave and tidal, while maximizing the contribution from those technologies that are already being deployed,” Darling continued. As well as expanding the large-scale renewables sector, the government is also seeking to increase the amount of smaller-scale, localized electricity production.
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