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Scottish wind firm passes 1-gigawatt mark

Jan. 6, 2012 at 6:29 AM   |   Comments

PERTH, Scotland, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The Scottish renewable energy firm SSE says its rapid expansion of onshore wind farms has resulted in its surpassing the 1-gigawatt installed capacity mark.

The company, based in Perth, said Wednesday its continued ramp-up of new wind farms in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland has resulted in 1,100 megawatts of installed capacity – surpassing what it produces from hydropower, The (Dundee) Courier reported.

"With construction work continuing at sites in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, we expect that our operating onshore wind farm capacity will continue to grow significantly in the coming months," SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant said.

The gigawatt-level achievement demonstrates momentum in Scotland's renewables industry, Marchant said.

"The safe and timely delivery of new assets is a key priority for SSE and passing the 1-gigawatt milestone for onshore wind farm capacity is a very positive development as we start the new year," he said.

SSE said the new capacity -- 28 times what it boasted in 2005 -- includes the $780 million Clyde array in South Lanarkshire, which at 152 turbines and 450 megawatts of capacity is one of the largest onshore wind farms in Europe, The Courier reported.

Also among its new efforts is the 156-megawatt Griffin project in Perthshire as well as two more in Northern Ireland -- the Slieve Kirk and Rathcahill arrays.

The company's push to expand its wind holdings is also resulting in manufacturing growth in Dundee, where last month, SSE, Port of Dundee owner Forth Ports, the government agency Scottish Enterprise and the Dundee City Council inked a memorandum of understanding to set up a wind turbines manufacturing plant at Dundee Harbor.

The Dec. 15 announcement rekindled hopes in a city hard-hit by unemployment that 700 or more jobs in the renewable energy supply chain could be in the offing.

"The Port of Dundee and the wider city region have a crucial role to play in the future of Scotland's renewables sector," Lena Wilson, chief executive at Scottish Enterprise, said in a statement.

The harbor, she said, is "the ideal breeding ground for Scotland's renewable supply chain to generate maximum economic and environmental benefit."

Scottish Enterprise has set out a what it calls a National Renewable Infrastructure Plan, in which it has identified 11 sites around the country it believes offer "the potential to help Scotland become an established location for offshore wind turbine manufacturing and construction operations."

They include Dundee as well as Leith, Nigg, Energy Park Fife at Methil, Hunterston, Aberdeen, Arnish, Campbeltown/Machrihanish, Ardesier, Kishorn and Peterhead.

The Nigg Energy Park, a one-time oil facility at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth, for instance, is "ideally placed" as a construction site for turbines needed to service two major offshore wind energy developments proposed off the north coastline of the Scottish Highlands.

The oil industry in the region came to a halt in 2000, when yards at Nigg and nearby Ardersier were shuttered with the loss of 5,000 jobs.

The Dundee announcement came only days after a $327 million wind turbine factory in the British port of Hull was revealed by the German manufacturer Siemens.

Plans for "Green Port Hull" call for the manufacturing of 6-megawatt turbines -- twice as big as the biggest now being used and measuring nearly 500 feet each. They would be used in three offshore wind farms under construction near Hull that will require 5,000 turbines.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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