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Scotland opens Europe’s largest onshore wind farm

964567_windmillScottish Power has week officially switched on its Whitelee wind farm, which is Europe’s largest onshore wind power project.

The initial 140 turbines on the site near Glasgow will produce up to 322 megawatts of electricity — enough to power more than 180,000 homes and eliminate 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

The Scottish Government this week also approved the utility’s plan to expand Whitelee’s capacity by another 130 megawatts. Scottish Power is also carrying out scoping work on a potential second extension that could add a further 140 megawatts of energy production. It expects to submit an application for that plan later this summer.

With some 500,000 people living within a 30-kilometre radius of the facility, Whitelee is one of the first major wind farms to be constructed close to a large population centre. The £300 million project includes a 90-kilometre “floating” road network to minimise environmental impacts on peat-land areas and waterways. A £2 million state-of-the-art visitor centre is also in the process of being completed.

“Whitelee is a milestone in the history of Scotland, not only representing the largest wind farm in Europe but also one of the largest in the world,” said Ignacio Galán, chairman of Scottish Power. “The excellent location of Whitelee has always meant that it would be possible to extend the windfarm, and we are delighted that the Scottish Government has approved our plans to do so.”

“The superb achievement of having the largest onshore windfarm in Europe, providing power for hundreds of thousands of homes, shows what can be achieved when strong political leadership is shown,” noted Chris Tomlinson, director of programm strategy for the British Wind Energy Association. “We now need that same leadership to be shown by local councils, who have the power to deliver a renewable energy future for the UK.”

Scottish Power, part of the Iberdrola Group, has a 9,000-strong workforce in the UK, and registered revenues in the country of nearly £7 billion last year.

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