First turbines arrive at Whitelee1 December 2007
ScottishPower Renewables’ construction of Europe’s biggest onshore windfarm has reached another major milestone, with the delivery, on 2 November, of the first wind turbines to the site. Located just south of Glasgow on Eaglesham Moor, the 140 turbine project will deliver an output of 322 MWe, roughly enough – when the wind is blowing – to power the nearby city of Glasgow, and will provide over 11% of the 2010 Scottish Executive’s renewable energy target (18% of all electricity generation in Scotland), and 2.4% of the UK–wide target for 10% of electricity generation from renewables by 2010.
The turbines were delivered to the site between the hours of 2200 and 0400 to minimise disruption to traffic. Keith Anderson, director of ScottishPower Renewables, remarked ‘The safe and timely delivery of turbines is a vital part of this project and we have carefully planned the process to ensure that any disruption is minimised’.
Construction began at Whitelee in September 2006 with the creation of the site infrastructure and access roads for the machinery and equipment. Many of the turbine foundations were already in place in anticipation of this delivery. Delivery of the remaining turbines will take place over the next 15 months.
ScottishPower has so far awarded £330m in contracts for wind turbines and civil engineering work for the windfarm, the biggest project of its kind in Europe. Siemens will supply 140 of its 2.3 MW turbines for the 322 MW site, while contracts have been awarded to Morrison Construction and Balfour Kilpatrick for site infrastructure works including 90 km of access roads and turbine foundations.
Balfour Kilpatrick will carry out works valued in excess of £20 million on the site, which will extend to 13km in length and cover an area of approximately 5500 hectares, in the design, supply and installation of electrical and control systems including switchgear and cabling, and the construction of the substation and control buildings necessary for the gathering and transporting of power to the Grid.
The wind farm plan was delayed for two years by objections from the British Airport Authority which has opposed the plan for the past two years amid concerns that the 140 giant turbines could endanger planes coming in to land at Glasgow airport on a key approach by making them 'disappear' from radar screens. However a solution was found and BAA withdrew its objection.
The original plans for Whitelee would have seen the farm’s wind turbines appear on airport radar systems at Glasgow in the same way as aircraft. To fix the problem an additional primary radar system costing about £5m will be built at Kincardine in Fife to track aircraft directly above Whitelee. Data from Kincardine will be fed into a new radar display system at Glasgow where it will be merged with the data from the existing radar to provide an acceptable service for air traffic control.
BAA says the system has been tested successfully in recent months and is thought to be the first of its kind to be implemented. It is believed it could offer a solution to similar problems throughout the world.