ScottishPower Renewables has submitted a planning application to the Scottish Government for a five turbine extension at Whitelee Windfarm, near Glasgow. The extension would generate up to 12MW of renewable energy and increase the overall capacity of Europe’s largest onshore windfarm to 551MW – enough to power the annual needs of more than 300,000 homes. The initial 140 turbines at Whitelee Windfarm were fully completed in May 2009, and two further extensions have since been approved for an additional 75 turbines. All 75 turbines have now been constructed at the site and commissioning is ongoing, with full power generation expected in early autumn. As a result of the windfarm, ScottishPower Renewables has contributed almost £2 million of community funding to the local area and if this latest extension is built, annual payments totalling approx £1 million will be made to the community to fund local projects for the next 25 years.
The five new turbines would be located to the west of the existing site in East Ayrshire. Once complete, the third extension would also add an additional 3 km to the windfarm’s publically accessible tracks and paths and could be used for recreational purposes. It is believed that over 500,000 people have visited the windfarm site so far, with many using the existing 90 km of tracks for outdoor pursuits such as cycling, horse riding or walking. Almost 250,000 people have also been welcomed through the doors of the windfarm’s purpose built onsite visitor centre, providing a significant boost to local visitor numbers and supporting the region’s tourism industry.
Simon Christian, UK Managing Director of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Whitelee has proved to be an excellent location for a windfarm development. The original windfarm continues to perform extremely well, and we have now nearly completed two extensions with minimal disruption in the local area.
“Whitelee is a fantastic demonstration of the economic benefits that renewable energy projects can deliver. ScottishPower Renewables has invested over £500 million in the windfarm over the past five years, with the construction activities supporting an average of 290 full time equivalent positions over that period, many of which were filled by local people. A further 60 highly skilled jobs will be supported by the operation of the windfarm for the next 25 years.
“There has always been potential to extend Whitelee – it is well located near to major roads, it has access to a strong grid network and there is high demand for the electricity generated from the heavily populated nearby areas of Glasgow and East Kilbride and rural Ayrshire.
“Although our proposals for the third extension are relatively small, we think it is important to make the most of this excellent site and this development would make an important contribution towards Scotland’s renewable energy targets.”
For the construction of Whitelee Windfarm Extension Phase 3, ScottishPower Renewables anticipates supporting 30 to 60 construction jobs. There would also be further employment opportunities in the operational phase of the project in fields such as turbine service and maintenance and waste management, grounds and roads maintenance.