ScottishPower Renewables has submitted a planning application to East Ayrshire Council to construct a new state-of-the-art control centre at Whitelee Windfarm. The new development will monitor all aspects of the company’s Renewables assets across the UK, stretching from Cornwall to Caithness.
The new purpose built facility will incorporate a wide range of technology, allowing ScottishPower Renewables to manage all operational aspects of its Renewable assets from one central location. Operational Controllers will monitor the status and performance of an ever increasing operational portfolio, (currently at over 800 wind turbines), 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The new facility will allow the company to further enhance their industry leading Control Centre position which has been achieved since the formation of their current dedicated Renewable Control Centre in 2006.
Controllers also operate 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 small environmentally friendly single storey brick building is to be located within the same compound as the existing Control Building at Whitelee Windfarm, and will be 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. If approved, ScottishPower Renewables hope to begin construction this coming summer, with completion targeted for winter 2013.
Mark Gailey, Control Centre Manager at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Our new control room will be the most advanced facility for monitoring wind, wave and tidal assets anywhere in the UK. It will enhance our ability to manage our portfolio of operational assets, many of which are located in remote areas. The ability to have detailed 24 hour monitoring is invaluable for ensuring that performance is maximised safely whilst ensuring we comply with our regulatory responsibilities.
“By centralising our control facilities within a new purpose designed building, ScottishPower Renewables will be able to guarantee that as our operations portfolio continues to expand, we will have the ability to manage all of our projects consistently from Whitelee.”