ScottishPower Renewables (SPR), part of the world’s largest wind power company Iberdrola*, has become the first developer in the UK to achieve one gigawatt (GW) of electricity production capacity from wind power. The milestone was achieved after the company officially opened Arecleoch (120MW) and Mark Hill (56MW) windfarms in South Ayrshire.
SPR now has 24 windfarms fully operational across the UK, consisting of more than 770 turbines. In order to achieve 1GW of capacity, the company has invested more than £1bn in wind energy in that last decade. It is thought that more than 2,000 people have been employed in the construction and management of the company’s windfarms.
In total, 1GW of electricity is capable of powering up to 600,000 homes. ScottishPower Renewables’ projects account for roughly one fifth of the all on-shore wind power developments in the UK and includes the largest single project in Europe, the 322MW Whitelee Windfarm near Glasgow.
First Minister Alex Salmond joined Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Galán to officially switch on the two neighbouring windfarms near Barrhill in South Ayrshire.
Ignacio Galán, Chairman of Iberdrola and Iberdrola Renewables, said: “For ScottishPower Renewables, today is an especially satisfying day, because we have reached the ‘1,000 megawatt mark’ in wind energy generation. This clearly shows our commitment to clean energy and sustainable development in Scotland”. He added: “Our Company is deeply committed to Scotland, and seeks to be a driver of growth and development, especially in the difficult international economic environment we are currently experiencing.”
Iberdrola is contributing to energy development in the UK with investments totalling £3 billion in the period 2010-2012, focusing mainly on renewables, not only in building wind farms but also in connecting new onshore and offshore wind generation. Of this £3 billion investment, 70% will be spent in Scotland with a positive impact for jobs and suppliers.
“In this sense, we welcome the high ambitious targets in renewables of this Government and will therefore continue to contribute to the development of Scotland’s renewable energy potential,” Galán said.
First Minister, Alex Salmond said: “The opening of the Arecleoch and Mark Hill windfarms here in South Ayrshire is a significant milestone for ScottishPower Renewables. It also underlines both the rapid progress Scotland has made in clean energy generation and our industry’s leading role in the wider development of a genuinely low carbon economy across Europe. There are some 7 GW of renewables capacity currently installed, under construction or consented around Scotland, enabling us to exceed our target of meeting 31 per cent of our electricity use in 2011 from renewables.
“It is through the leadership of companies such as ScottishPower Renewables that we have made such progress and why, as we increasingly develop our offshore energy resources, I am confident that we will achieve our target for Scotland to generate from renewables the equivalent of 100 per cent of our own electricity needs by 2020.”
The company is also a leader in developing habitat management plans at its windfarms. SPR is responsible for habitat management areas covering 7,375 hectares, which is equivalent to over 10,000 football pitches. The habitat schemes have encouraged Golden Eagle breeding in Kintyre, increased Black Grouse populations at projects in Argyll as well as protecting rare heath lands and blanket bog.
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*Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance