We Work with the Largest Onshore Wind Farm in Europe
The largest onshore wind farm in Europe, Whitelee in Scotland, faced severe opposition during the planning process because of likely radar interference. We worked closely with Scottish Power and BAA to identify a site for a new radar from which none of the turbines would be visible, but aircraft flying into Glasgow airport would be seen. This case study explores the specific challenges that lay ahead and how 322 MW of clean energy was finally achieved.
Whitelee wind farm in Scotland is already the largest onshore wind power development in Europe, even though it is not due for full completion until later in 2009. Scottish Power had faced significant objections from BAA when applying for consent for the 140-turbine project south of Glasgow. This was due to the perceived affect of the development on the radar systems at nearby Glasgow airport.
Scottish Power determined that an additional data feed from an existing radar might offer an effective mitigation solution. The radar at Edinburgh airport was considered, but line of sight analysis demonstrated that the radar would not provide the required height coverage in the Whitelee area, due to terrain shielding.
We offered to find a suitable site for a new radar, a site from which none of the turbines would be seen, but from which aircraft flying into Glasgow would be visible. This was challenging because of the large site area and the wide variations in terrain elevation.
Custom software was modified and an area of over 25 000 km was analysed using a complex iterative process, which ran for a number of weeks on a multi-processor server.
The computer model was refined as suitable zones were identified, and more complex analysis was carried out. A number of potential sites were surveyed with access, local blocking (such as forestry) and power supply issues being considered. This resulted in the identification of three technically suitable sites: one in Kincardine, one in Kintyre, and one in the southern uplands of Scotland.
Discussions between NATS (BAAs technical advisor) and ourselves determined that the Kincardine site should be the preferred option because of access and radar coverage. Scottish Power already had a suitable site in Kincardine and we carried out analysis, along with NATS, which confirmed that this specific site was suitable. The new Kincardine bridge was another issue that needed to be taken into consideration.
As a result, the turbines at Whitelee now generate 322 MW of power, sufficient to provide electricity to virtually every home in Glasgow, and preventing emissions of over 650 000 tons of carbon dioxide every year from fossil fuels that would otherwise have been burnt. Further expansion plans for Whitelee are currently under discussion.
This success is one of our case studies. You can read it here.