First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Ignacio Galan – Chairman of Spanish utility giant Iberdrola and its Scottish Power subsidiary – have officially opened the company’s new £1 million operations centre at Whitelee Windfarm, which monitors the wind turbines that powered over 740,000 homes last year.
The centre can remotely oversee all of Scottish Power Renewables’ wind farm developments, currently 31 operational sites. Operators continuously monitor the 929 turbines, using sophisticated weather software to plan the operations and maintenance and speak to National Grid.
In 2014 Scottish Power Renewables had a record year for wind power, generating over 3100 GWh – meeting the annual electricity demands of more than 742,000 homes.
In total the company has 1,600 MW of wind power in operation and approximately 500 MW consented or under construction. Since Scottish Power merged with Iberdrola in 2007, there has been an average annual investment of £300 million in renewable energy. Just last week the company announced that it was taking forward the £2 billion 714MW East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm.
Speaking at the appropriately windy site, Galan said: “Wind power is making a substantial contribution to Scotland’s energy needs, and there is still significant potential for further renewable energy developments in Scotland.
“Onshore wind power is the most developed technology, and statistics show that it works. With our projects under construction, we will soon have 2 gigawatts of wind power in operation – enough to power more than one million homes per year.
“We will continue to invest in good projects, and we are proud to be a responsible developer of wind power. We have secured consent for over 90% of the wind capacity that we have put into the planning system, which is an industry leading position and testament to the efforts that we put in to every project.
“We have invested over £6 billion in the UK since 2007, including £2 billion in renewables alone and the investment in this new operations centre means that we have the most responsive fleet of wind turbines in the UK. We can control individual turbines more than 800 miles apart, ensuring that all of our sites are as efficient as possible and can make the maximum contribution to the grid.
First Minister Sturgeon said: “We have made huge progress in renewables deployment in Scotland, generating enough renewable energy to meet 44 per cent of Scotland’s annual electricity demand, and our renewable generation continues to go from strength to strength.
“Harnessing Scotland’s vast energy wealth has multiple benefits – reducing our carbon emissions, creating jobs and investment and improving the energy security of Scotland and the rest of the UK. And of course communities the length and breadth of Scotland are also benefitting from millions of pounds of community benefit funding.”