The initial 140 turbines at Whitelee were completed ahead of schedule in May 2009 and, on the same day the windfarm was officially switched on, planning permission was granted for the first extension of 36 turbines. The completion of both extensions will see the wind farm hosting a total of 215 turbines across an area of approximately 80 km2.
The planning application for the second extension was officially submitted to the Scottish Government on 29th May 2009. Construction on both extensions will be carried out at the same time, starting in 2010, with completion expected in 2012. It is anticipated that construction will create up to 200 jobs.
Keith Anderson, Managing Director of ScottishPower Renewables, said: "In the week that delegates from across the world are discussing global climate change issues in Copenhagen, it is fitting that Europe’s largest onshore windfarm at Whitelee has been given permission to expand further. In total, the wind energy electricity generated at Whitelee will have the equivalent of displacing between 570,000 and 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
"It took over a decade to complete the first phase of the windfarm, from identifying the site to completing construction, and the Scottish Government must be commended for the improvements in the planning process that means this windfarm development has been considered in record time.
"As the largest developer of onshore wind power in the UK, we have gained a lot of experience in developing projects, with over 80% of projects considered receiving planning consent. Improved planning processes will only help towards Scotland fully realising its renewable energy potential."
The First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP, said: "Scotland continues to lead the way in developing the technology and capacity – in renewables, in carbon capture, in energy efficiency measures – to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change.
"The Whitelee extension underlines Scotland’s place at the cutting edge of green energy and our comprehensive climate change framework, including the world-leading emission reduction targets of 42 per cent and 80 per cent by 2020 and 2050 respectively, and the pioneering carbon assessment of our 2010-11 budget, provide a lead to other governments."
The second extension is located to the south west of the current Whitelee Site, located to the north of the Irvine Valley and north east of Kilmarnock. All of the turbines are located within the boundary of East Ayrshire Council.
A state-of-the-art visitor centre at Whitelee was officially opened in September this year. More than 25,000 visitors came to see the windfarm in just over two months before the centre closed for the winter period at the end of November. The 90km of roads and tracks that were constructed as part of the project have also proved to be extremely popular with cyclists, walkers and horse riders.
ScottishPower Renewables is part of Iberdrola Renovables, the largest wind energy company in the world with an installed capacity of 10,477 MW at the end of September 2009, and a pipeline of over 57,400 MW. ScottishPower Renewables had 802 MW of installed capacity at the end of September 2009, and a pipeline of 5,115 MW.