SSE has completed the construction and commissioning of the 66 turbine/228MW (megawatt) Stronelairg wind farm, near Fort Augustus. With a total investment of around £350m, Stronelairg is expected to be SSE's final wind farm to be accredited under the Renewables Obligation.
The completion of Stronelairg takes SSE's onshore wind farm capacity to 2,143MW, and its total renewable energy capacity (including pumped storage) to 3,955MW.
This capacity total will increase to 4,190MW when the Beatrice offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth is completed in the spring of 2019; but it may be closer to 4,030MW if SSE completes the sale of stakes of up to 50% in Stronelairg and in Dunmaglass* onshore wind farm.
The potential sale of stakes in Stronelairg and Dunmaglass is in line with SSE's strategy to create value from developing and operating assets, as well as owning them. Should a sale be completed, SSE will continue to be the operator of both wind farms and will retain significant future development rights in relation to them.
The Stronelairg wind farm is situated within a natural bowl on a plateau that is on average 600 metres above sea level. Its load factor, on a P50 basis, is expected to be around 42% in a typical year. This is similar to the load factors of many existing offshore windfarms. It is set well back from Loch Ness, so that no turbines are visible from main tourist routes. In line with SSE's commitment to sharing value, communities will benefit from a significant community investment fund.
SSE announced on 14 November that it is consolidating the development, operation and ownership of its renewable energy assets in the UK and Ireland under a single entity to be known as SSE Renewables.
SSE's future onshore wind farm pipeline consists of over 800MW of potential new-build projects.
Martin Pibworth, Wholesale Director, SSE, said:
"To have completed Stronelairg ahead of schedule and on budget, despite the additional challenges associated with its altitude and the weather conditions experienced in the winter of 2017/18, is a tribute to the skill and professionalism of the teams that designed, developed and built the wind farm. Its completion confirms SSE's position as the owner and operator of the most renewable energy capacity across the UK and Ireland.
"Through SSE Renewables, we want to build on our established skills in asset management and large capital project development to achieve future growth and maximise our contribution to the ongoing decarbonisation of the electricity system."