Two wind power plants open in Scotland

The First Minister joined the head of the world’s largest wind power company to officially open two wind farm plants in the south of Scotland as ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) confirmed its installed wind turbines electricity production capacity in the UK had reached 1GW.

Alex Salmond and Ignacio Gálan, chair of Iberdrola and Scottish Power Renewables, formally opened the 28 wind turbines Mark Hill and 60 wind turbines Arecleoch wind farms near Barrhill in South Ayrshire which have a combined capacity to power up to 100,000 homes.

The Glasgow-based company now has 24 wind farms fully operational across the UK – 15 of them in Scotland, including Europe’s largest operating onshore wind farm, Whitelee near Glasgow.

ScottishPower Renewables has invested more than £1 billion in wind energy over the last decade and estimates that more than 2,000 people have been employed in the construction and management of its wind farms. The total capacity, 1GW, provides enough electricity for up to 600,000 homes.

The FM said: "The opening of the Arecleoch and Mark Hill windfarms here in South Ayrshire is a significant milestone for ScottishPower Renewables. It also underlines both the rapid progress Scotland has made in clean energy generation and our industry’s leading role in the wider development of a genuinely low carbon economy across Europe. There are some 7 GW of renewables capacity currently installed, under construction or consented around Scotland, enabling us to exceed our target of meeting 31 per cent of our electricity use in 2011 from renewables.

"It is through the leadership of companies such as ScottishPower Renewables that we have made such progress and why, as we increasingly develop our offshore energy resources, I am confident that we will achieve our target for Scotland to generate from renewables the equivalent of 100 per cent of our own electricity needs by 2020.

"We will continue to work with the industry and with communities across Scotland to seize the opportunities as we move increasingly offshore to harness our unrivalled wind, wave and tidal resources and develop our considerable carbon capture and storage capacity.

"By so doing we can deliver our 2020 vision, go on to export many times our electricity needs and secure our place as a green energy powerhouse of the European continent."

Ignacio Galán, Chairman of Iberdrola and Iberdrola Renewables, said: "For ScottishPower Renewables, today is an especially satisfying day, because we have reached the ‘1,000 megawatt mark’ in wind energy generation. This clearly shows our commitment to clean energy and sustainable development in Scotland". He added: "Our Company is deeply committed to Scotland, and seeks to be a driver of growth and development, especially in the difficult international economic environment we are currently experiencing."

Iberdrola is contributing to energy development in the UK with investments totalling £3 billion in the period 2010-2012, focusing mainly on renewables, not only in building wind farms but also in connecting new onshore and offshore wind generation. Of this £3 billion investment, 70 per cent will be spent in Scotland with a positive impact for jobs and suppliers.

"In this sense, we welcome the high ambitious targets in renewables of this Government and will therefore continue to contribute to the development of Scotland’s renewable energy potential."