Big Onshore Wind Expansion Planned For Scotland

Scattered over hill and dale, from “Aberdeenshire to Dumfries and Galloway,” 10 new wind power plants totaling nearly 800 megawatts (MW) in generating capacity—that’s what Burcote Wind wants to make happen in Scotland. And the renewable energy-loving Scottish government is all for it.

Burcote has four projects in development, and expects to submit planning applications on them by fall 2013. The other six projects are “at early stages of environmental and technical appraisal and not yet in the public domain,” the company said.

wind power scotland burcote

image via Burcote Wind

So this is a fairly speculative announcement—but unless there’s a big shift in the Scottish government, it’s hard to imagine most if not all of it eventually unfolding. Remember, this is the government that’s intent on producing enough renewable energy by 2020 to match the nation’s demand. The government says some 17 gigawatts of generating capacity is in the pipeline, scheduled to deliver an estimated £46 billion ($72 billion) in investment.

Burcote said it’s 10 wind plants would require investing about £1.08 billion ($1.7 billion).

Wind isn’t without its critics in the U.K., which might be one reason Burcote and the government put a keen focus on the jobs—600 of them, the company said—these projects could produce.

“We’re adamant that we want our projects to contribute to Scotland’s ambitions to reinvigorate its industrial base,” Graham Brown, Burcote chairman, said in a statement. “So as well as creating skilled jobs, we are exploring opportunities to use community benefit funding to create training opportunities for young people at local colleges and help equip our workforce with the skills needed for Scotland to take full advantage of the huge economic potential the renewables industry has to offer.

And Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: “While each project will be subject to the appropriate planning processes, this proposed investment underlines yet again how our natural resources are creating new, green jobs and putting Scotland at the forefront of the renewables revolution.”

With 10 proposed plants adding up to nearly 800 MW (787.5, to be precise), these would appear to be moderately sized projects. Nothing like the Whitelee Wind Farm outside Glasgow, that’s for sure; it’s undergoing a 217-MW expansion that later this year will give it 539 MW of capacity.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.