We’ve heard a lot about giant offshore wind power plants going online in Europe, but there is large-scale wind development taking place on terra firma, too. And it’s getting bigger.
Case in point: ScottishPower Renewables, a division of Spanish company Iberdrola, announced that the Whitelee Wind Farm, which had been operating with an installed capacity of 322 megawatts (MW), added another array of turbines earlier this month. It’s part of a planned 217-MW expansion that later this year will give the power plant 539 MW of capacity and “cement Whitelee’s position as the largest wind farm in Europe,” the company said.
How long Whitelee will have that title is a bit up in the air, however. The Czech company CEZ is building what it says will be a 600-MW wind farm in Romania. According to press reports, as of late 2011 the Fantanele-Cogealac Wind Park had 387.5 MW of capacity installed, with the remainder of the turbines due to go up this year.
Whitelee (pictured above) is about nine miles outside Glasgow, on Eaglesham Moor. The expansion project will consist of 75 Alstom wind turbines, 69 rated at 3 MW, the other six at 1.67 MW. The cost of the expansion is estimated at more than £300 million (US$475 million). According to ScottishPower Renewables, some 350 workers have added more than 225 miles of cables and used 2.5 million tons of crushed rock to form roads and the parking lot at the Whitelee information center, which has seen more than 200,000 visitors to date.
Why all the visitors? Well, ScottishPower Renewables seems to have turned Whitelee into something of a park. It said the expansion will mean that “a further 30 kilometers of tracks and trails will be opened to the public for outdoor activities such as walking and cycling, adding to the original 90 kilometers of tracks already open to the public.”