Planning Consent for UK's Most Advanced Renewable Energy Control Centre at Whitelee Windfarm
- £1 million development set to monitor over 1,200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity
- Round the clock supervision of nearly 30 operational windfarm sites up to 600 miles apart
The UK’s most advanced control centre for monitoring renewable energy is set to be built by ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) later this year at Whitelee Windfarm, following East Ayrshire Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the new £1 million development.
Once completed, the state-of-the-art facility will monitor the operations of the nearly 30 operational SPR windfarms across the UK, consisting of approximately 900 wind turbines in total, stretching from Cornwall in the South to Caithness in the North. The Control Centre will monitor all of SPR’s future projects as well, such as the re-powering of Coal Clough Windfarm near Burnley in 2014, as well as the proposed 96 turbine site at Kilgallioch in the South West of Scotland which received planning consent earlier this year.
Sophisticated technology will allow the company’s Operational Controllers to monitor the status and performance of individual turbines 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is anticipated that work will begin in the next two months and the new facility will be operational by early 2014.
Mark Gailey, Control Centre Manager at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “As our portfolio of renewable energy projects continues to diversify and grow, it is important that we have the best technology in place to help us optimise the performance of each of our projects. We are very pleased to have received planning permission from East Ayrshire Council. This means that the UK’s largest onshore windfarm at Whitelee will also be home to the most advanced facility for monitoring wind, wave and tidal assets anywhere in the UK.
“From our new control room we will be able to closely supervise all of our sites, optimising performance, monitoring localised wind speeds and planning maintenance. The ability to have detailed 24 hour monitoring is invaluable, especially given that some of our sites are nearly 600 miles apart, and with many located in remote areas.
“As we expand in to offshore wind and wave and tidal power as well, it is important that we have the ability to diversify our control operations to monitor these projects as well. The new facility at Whitelee will give us the scope to do just that.”
One of the most advanced features of the control operations is ScottishPower Renewables’ purpose-designed weather monitoring systems, specially developed in collaboration with the Met Office. The system allows controllers to quickly assess which weather elements are affecting, or are likely to affect individual wind farms. As well as real-time data, the system has detailed forward looking forecasts from 6 hours to 14 days ahead. Specific weather elements highlighted include lightning, wind speed (both at surface and turbine hub-height), snow, rainfall, temperature and visibility. This detailed information allows Controllers to make informed decisions to support Health & Safety, maintenance programmes and operational schedules.
The building will be an environmentally friendly single storey brick dwelling that is to be located within the same compound as the existing Control Building at Whitelee Windfarm, and has been designed to complement the existing facility. Power for the new building will be generated by Whitelee Windfarm, and water will be provided by existing bore holes on the site. The location has been chosen due to its ease of access to the major road network serving central Scotland.
David Norris, Project Manager overseeing the construction of the building, said: “We are delighted to have received planning consent, and we will continue to work closely with the design team, lead by architects, HAA, to take the project forward. Our aim is to have the new building wind proof and watertight before the onset of the winter weather, and to have the whole project completed as quickly as possible to ensure a smooth transition from the current Control Centre operations.”
Media Information: Paul Ferguson, ScottishPower Press Office: 0141 614 4535