Stronelairg powers on

This weekend, Stronelairg wind farm reached its most crucial milestone yet – the first export of power to the national grid.

Image: SSEImage: SSE

Our 66-turbine onshore wind farm, located South East of Fort Augustus in the Scottish Highlands, is the last of SSE’s onshore wind projects to be delivered under the UK’s Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme.

I am thrilled to report that on Saturday, 24 March 2018, the first export from Stronelairg was made.

Reaching this stage in the project is a testament to the hard work of SSE’s Stronelairg team and our contractors. As one of the highest wind farms in the UK, it’s fair to say the team have dealt with a number of unique challenges in getting to this point.

Each turbine blade is 57m long – around three double decker buses in length – making manoeuvring the blades and other turbine components from Kyle of Lochalsh and Corpach harbours all the way up to the site an incredibly skilled endeavour. I would like to thank the local communities for their continued patience and support with the turbine deliveries.

The elevation of the site has also left the team at the mercy of the Scottish weather. Over the winter the site has endured incredibly strong winds and snow – not to mention the Beast from the East and Storm Emma in recent weeks.

But even in the face of these challenges, the team has managed to reach this important milestone.

As we celebrate this achievement, we look forward to completing the Stronelairg project this year, which will add 228MW to the more than 1,000MW SSE has already built in Great Britain.

It is also a time to look ahead at the future of onshore wind. Onshore wind is a success story, making up 70% of Scotland’s installed renewable capacity. The onshore wind industry has created jobs, supported a growing and indigenous supply chain, and reduced carbon emissions. 

At SSE, we want to continue to deliver further benefits for Scotland, and to help meet Scotland’s ambitious target of generating the equivalent of 50% of the country’s total electricity, heat and transport demand from renewables by 2030.

Take Stronelairg for example. Construction of the project could deliver as much as £120 million to the Highland and wider Scottish economies. The project will also deliver around £26 million in community benefit funds over the next 25 years, split between the local communities of Fort Augustus and Stratherrick and Foyers as well as the wider region through SSE’s Highland Sustainable Development Fund.

With the falling costs of onshore wind, and a clear focus on the cost of energy, there is a strong case for the UK Government to allow onshore wind to compete in the Contracts for Difference auctions. A number of reports have now shown that with access to a contract to stabilise revenues, onshore wind could be built without any additional cost to customers.

But equally critical to onshore wind prospects is for the Scottish Government to use the planning system to enable low carbon infrastructure and energy generation. This means aligning planning policy with the objectives of the Scottish Energy Strategy to facilitate the development of new sites and the repowering of existing ones with more efficient turbines.

Now owning and operating more than 1,000 onshore wind turbines, at SSE we pride ourselves as being a leading developer of onshore wind projects, and we are ready to work with the UK and Scottish Governments to ensure onshore wind can continue to be a part of the energy mix in future.

Paul Cooley, Director of Generation Development, SSE
Stronelairg, SSE, Scotland, grid, wind farm, UK, RO

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