Monday, July 21, 2008

Green light for Europe's biggest windfarm


Europe's largest onshore windfarm has been given the green light by the Scottish Government.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the 152-turbine Clyde windfarm near Abington in South Lanarkshire would be capable of powering up to 320,000 homes.

This development will bring £600 million of investment while during construction the project is expected to create 200 jobs, with approximately 30 staff employed when fully operational.

Speaking ahead of the World Renewable Energy Congress in Glasgow, the First Minister said:

"The Clyde windfarm will represent a very important step in the development of renewable energy in Scotland and in meeting shared European targets. It is another step towards making Scotland the green energy capital of Europe.

"The Scottish Government has an ambitious target to generate 31 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011 and 50 per cent by 2020.

"Today's announcement makes it virtually certain that the 2011 target will be met early and exceeded by the end of this Parliamentary term and represents a significant milestone on the way to achieving the 2020 target.

"Scotland has a clear, competitive advantage in developing clean, green energy sources such as wind, wave and tidal power.

"We have put renewable energy at the heart of our vision of increasing sustainable, economic growth.

"Installed renewables capacity is already greater than nuclear capacity. But this announcement demonstrates that we are only at the start of the renewables revolution in Scotland. Combined with the crucial announcement of a new biomass plant in Fife on Friday, the Clyde declaration today makes this weekend one of the biggest advances ever in energy technology in Scotland."

The Clyde windfarm application was submitted by Airtricity. The windfarm will be built in clusters of turbines on either side of the M74 motorway. It will have a total capacity of up to 548 Megawatts (MW). At present, the largest consented windfarm in Scotland is Whitelee, on Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow, which is currently under construction and will have a total capacity of 322MW. Currently the biggest operational windfarm in Europe is the Maranchon windfarm in Guadalajara, Spain which has a generating capacity of 208 MW.

The Scottish Government's Energy Consents Unit is currently processing 36 renewable project applications - 26 wind farm, nine hyrdro and one wave project, which equates to 2.5 Gigawatts (GW) of electricity.

Current installed renewables capacity in Scotland totals 2800 MW. Installed nuclear capacity is 2090 MW. Approval of the Clyde windfarm means that the total installed capacity either built or consented and under construction will be 4.55GW - just 450 MW short of the 5GW needed to reach the Scottish Government's interim target of generating 31 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011.

Approval of the Clyde windfarm makes a significant contribution to meeting the EU renewables target of 20 per cent of all energy consumption by 2020.

17 energy projects have now been determined by this Scottish Government. This includes consent for 12 renewable projects since May last year, and compares with an annual average of four under the previous administration.

In Scotland the latest annual figures are for 2006. These show:

  • Electricity generated by renewable sources (apart from hydro natural flow) increased by 46 per cent
  • As a result of unplanned outages, nuclear's share of generation fell from 38 per cent to 26 per cent in Scotland
  • In 2006, Scotland could have supplied 92.5 per cent of its electricity needs from non-nuclear sources
  • Electricity generated in Scotland increased by nine per cent. In 2005, Scotland exported 15 per cent of the electricity generated to consumers elsewhere in the UK, but this rose to 20 per cent in 2006
  • Announcements over the last year bring us much closer to achieving the Scottish Government's ambitious targets of generating 31 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011 and 50 per cent by 2020

Any proposal to construct, extend or operate a windfarm with a generation capacity in excess of 50 MW requires the consent of Scottish Ministers under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989.

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