Giant Scottish wind farm set to grow

by Published Wed 20 May 2009 16:07
Scotland's Whitelee Farm will expand by more than a third

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond today officially switched on Europe’s largest onshore wind farm at the Whitelee site south of Glasgow – and announced that it has been given the go-ahead to expand by more than a third.

The 322MW Whitelee wind farm can already produce enough power to meet Glasgow’s entire electricity needs, but the Scottish Government has okayed plans to increase its capacity to 452MW as part of the country’s ambitious green energy goals.

Under Government targets, 50 percent of all Scotland’s electricity should be generated from sustainable sources by 2020. A determined drive for more renewable energy means an interim target of 31 percent by 2011 has already been achieved.

Central to the Government’s plans is approval for an even larger wind farm to be built on Shetland. With 150 turbines and a 540MW capacity, the proposed scheme would snatch the European onshore crown from Whitelee – but it may yet fail to get the Ministerial green light.

Despite five years of planning and consultation, the community-owned wind farm is still opposed by more than one in 10 of the island population. Those against the scheme fear it will destroy Shetland’s landscape – and thus, potentially, its tourism industry – and wreak havoc on the natural peat bogs.

But if Ministers give the nod to the scheme, submitted to them today, the Viking wind farm will have the potential to provide a fifth of Scotland’s total energy needs. The elctricity will be exported via a £500 million undersea cable.

Salmond said that Scotland’s geography and climate would make it theoretically possible for the country to generate 60GW of green energy in the future – ten times its own requirement.

“The Scottish Government is committed to taking full advantage of our 25 percent share in Europe's wave and windpower capacity,” Salmond said.

“We are determined to get rid of harmful emissions from our environment while capitalising on the vast economic opportunities our natural advantage in renewable energy poses.”

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