Up and running and about to get even bigger
Struggling with the ongoing global economic recession and trying to mitigate the ravages caused by global warming, Scotland’s government has jubilantly confirmed it has approved an expansion to Europe’s largest onshore wind farm.
While formally switching on the 322 MW Whitelee wind farm near Glasgow last week, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond announced the project has been given the green light to expand by a further 130 MW.
ScottishPower Renewables’ Whitelee project, which cost €340 million and will power 180,000 homes, consists of 140 turbines located on a 55 km2 site. It is expected to displace the equivalent of 500,000 tonnes of CO₂ a year.
“Whitelee in its current form is already flying the flag for onshore wind power in Europe,” Salmond said. “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.”
ScottishPower, part of the Iberdrola Group, is also trying to develop a second expansion which could add an additional 140 MW. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) notes that this frenetic, progressive energy infrastructure activity 15 kilometres from Glasgow is occurring in a nation that is planning for half of its electricity to come from wind power and other renewables by 2020. Scotland has already met its interim target of providing 31% of its electricity by renewables by 2011.
Since giving credit where credit is due is today an often overlooked virtue, its pleases EWEA to applaud Scotland, its politicians and the just-announced Whitelee expansion.
Together they have demonstrated to the world and other European nations that generating massive amounts of green electricity from wind power is achievable.
In addition, wind power can help in the necessary transformation from a society that depends on burning destructive and often imported fossil fuels to one that embraces a de-carbonised future based on local, affordable, sustainable forms of renewable energy. Now that’s a good news story worth celebrating.