Wind farm hailed a ‘national success story’ a decade after opening
The Whitelee facility is expected to provide a boost to the UK economy of more than £1 billion, with over £790 million in Scotland.
A wind farm based on the outskirts of Glasgow has been hailed as a “national success story” – a decade on from its official opening.
Whitelee wind farm, the largest onshore wind project in the UK, had been set up to significantly boost the number of homes in Scotland powered by renewable energy.
It began generating electricity in January 2008 and was officially connected to the National Grid a year later, in May 2009.
On Friday, a report was published into the economic, environmental and social benefits of the wind farm.
The report notes that the wind farm has generated enough clean, green energy to provide almost 90% of total annual household electricity consumed by Scottish households and businesses.
It also highlighted that the wind farm is expected to provide a boost to the UK economy of more than £1 billion, with over £790 million in Scotland.
The wind farm is also found to have supported more than 4,000 jobs during its peak years of construction while sustaining around 600 jobs each year through its operation and maintenance.
Enough C02 is also saved by the wind farm, the report notes, that it is the equivalent of offsetting two days worth of domestic flights to and from Gatwick Airport.
The Scottish Government has declared a climate emergency and has set out targets for the country to be net zero by 2045. It is set five years ahead of the UK Government’s target of net zero by 2050.
Lindsay McQuade, of ScottishPower Renewables (which owns and operates the wind farm along with almost 40 others around the UK), said efforts to achieve Scotland’s environmental targets can be achieved through working with industry and are underpinned through legislation.
“We know that renewable energy generation needs to quadruple if we are to deliver on net zero,” said Ms McQuade
“We also know that onshore wind is the cheapest form of green energy and therefore should be part of Scotland, and the UK’s, low carbon, cost-effective electricity system.
“If we are to meet the target of net zero by 2050, our ambition has to be backed by political will and underpinned by legislation.
“Since the passing of the Climate Change Act in 2008, a number of progressive policy measures have been put in place that has enabled Scotland to become coal-free.
“Working with industry and government, the same approach is now needed to ensure we can continue to invest in much-needed renewable generation and thereby achieve this objective, and support action to tackle the climate emergency facing us.”
Our proposals for Scotland’s Climate Change Bill set the most ambitious statutory targets anywhere in the world, but @thecccuk has been clear that “Scotland cannot deliver net-zero emissions by 2045 through devolved policy alone.” #ClimateEmergency pic.twitter.com/D3ntx4jBaw— Scot Gov Greener (@GreenerScotland) June 4, 2019
Ms McQuade added: “Whitelee is a great example of what effective policy can deliver. It’s a national success story.
“Every year it produces the equivalent clean energy to power each and every electric vehicle currently in the UK, preventing over five million tonnes of carbon emissions had this energy come from fossil fuels.
“The decarbonisation of our economy, transport and heating systems can all be achieved through existing technology, but that has to include onshore wind if we are to decarbonise by 2050.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “We lead the world in tackling climate change, being the first country to introduce long-term legally-binding carbon reduction targets and cutting emissions further than all other G20 countries.
“The Committee on Climate Change’s report, commissioned by the Government, now sets us on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely and we will respond in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue.”
We have recognised that the global community faces a climate emergency. Paul Wheelhouse, Energy Minister
Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The hugely effective and successful Whitelee Wind Farm shows the important role onshore wind plays, both in generating clean energy, and in contributing to our economy and, indeed, it has become a hugely popular visitor attraction in its own right.
“Decarbonising our energy system will help achieve our world leading climate change ambitions, and renewable energy, and onshore wind within it, will continue to play a vital role as we look to generate the additional clean electricity we will need to decarbonise our heat and transport systems.
“Onshore wind is, after all, the cheapest source of electricity generation at scale and wind energy technology is now helping to place downward pressure on the prices paid by consumers.
“We have accepted the advice set out by Committee on Climate Change in May, and the need for Scotland to reach net-zero emissions by 2045 to help avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
“We have recognised that the global community faces a climate emergency and have taken swift action by lodging amendments to our Climate Change Bill and, in the event the Bill is passed, Scotland will end its contribution to climate change within a generation.”