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Whitelee windfarm

Development of Whitelee windfarm

Find out about the background and history of the construction of the Whitelee windfarm.

Construction of Croilburn turbine

Construction of the first 140 turbines of Whitelee 1 cost £300 million and took almost 10 years in planning in construction before being completed but it wasn't long before a second phase of construction was started. The phase 2 extension of Whitelee started in 2011 and cost a further £300 million and added a further 75 turbines to the site taking the total to 215 turbines.

Whitelee 1 Timeline of Construction

Find here a breakdown or chronology of the major events leading to the completion of the Whitelee windfarm. 

  • 2000 - first plans are drawn up and initial development work begins
  • 2002 - the first planning application is submitted to council
  • 2002 - Path Planning Study completed
  • 2006 - (April) Section 36 planning consent granted with 80 conditions attached
  • 2006 - (October) construction begins
  • 2007 - (April) Ardochrig sub-station completed
  • 2007 - (June) spine road completed
  • 2007 - (November) the first turbine is installed
  • 2008 - (January) first output from the windfarm
  • 2009 - (May) windfarm was completed and officially switched on by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond on May 20th 2009
  • 2009 - (July) Whitelee 1 is completed with 140 turbines in place and all able to generate power
  • 2009 - (September) visitor centre opened by Rt. Honourable Jim Murphy (Scottish Secretary)

Whitelee Extension

  • 2011 - construction begins on 75 turbine extension
  • 2013 - construction of extension sub-station as well as all tracks and turbines completed

Whitelee 1 Construction Facts

Find here some interesting and useful facts about the construction of the windfarm.

  • The windfarm covers an area of 5300 hectares (53 kilometres sq/20.46 miles sq) or an area roughly equivalent to Aberdeen
  • Six quarries or borrow pits were created to supply the 1.5 - 2 million cubic meters of rock needed to build the roads and turbine bases
  • A fleet of 85 30-tonne dump trucks constantly ferried stone around the site
  • 120,000 tonnes of concrete used in the construction of the windfarm
  • Approximately 2208-3500 cubic meters of stone is required per turbine
  • A windfarm constructed sympathetically on peat can produce a positive CO2 return within 3 years of operation. If however the windfarm is poorly built, the CO2 payback can take 30 years - longer than the lifespan of the windfarm
  • About 70% of the roads at Whitelee are built using floating road construction methods because of the deep and sometimes fluid peat
  • 900 hectares of non-native conifer plantation was removed as part of the development of Phase-1 of the windfarm - around 2.25 million trees
  • Each turbine base requires 370 cubic meters of concrete and 40 tonnes of steel in its construction, equal to 750 tonnes
  • Each turbine weighs around 320 tonnes. The nacelle at the rear weighs around 80T and the rotor a further 60 tonnes 
  • The turbines in the windfarm are arranged into 12 'array's'
  • The turbine arrays are arranged so that the main spread of turbines face south-south-west (to catch the wind coming in off the Ayrshire coast). They start generating power at a wind speed of 4 meters per second (8 - 9mph), the optimum speed being 12 - 15 meters per second

Whitelee Extension Construction Facts

  • Approximately 34,000m (34km/21 miles) of new track created plus 10,000m (10km/6.2 miles) of upgraded forestry track
  • 225km of cables laid
  • Approximately 300ha of spruce trees removed for the extension
  • 40,000m3 of concrete used in foundations and buildings and 2000m3 in cable crossings
  • Approximately 1,500,000m3 of stone quarried, equal to 2.5 million tones
  • Deepest peat encountered was 7m. Average peat depth was 3.3m
  • Approximately 850,000m3 of peat excavated and spread
  • During the peak in civil works there was approximately 260 persons working in the extension site

For more information please use the External websites box to visit the Whitelee Windfarm Visitor Centre site.

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