SSE Renewables green lights first subsidy-free wind farm
Scotland’s newest onshore wind farm will be built subsidy free after SSE Renewables confirmed an 11-turbine extension to the existing 70MW, 35-turbine Gordonbush wind farm. The installed capacity of the onshore extension will be 47MW.
In a first for the leading renewable energy developer, the onshore wind farm will be built on a merchant basis and will be one of only a few onshore projects to get the green light in GB in recent years after government support was halted after 2015. The go-ahead to commence construction follows the decision in November by Scottish Ministers to grant revised consent for the 11-turbine extension.
Located 12km north west of Brora in the Scottish Highlands, construction on the extension will commence in March using some of the infrastructure and the grid connection of the original Gordonbush wind farm.
The ability to progress Gordonbush Extension on a merchant basis demonstrates the quality of SSE Renewables’ onshore development pipeline and its ongoing commitment to onshore wind.
However, Jim Smith, Managing Director of SSE Renewables, has warned that merchant investments are only possible for a limited number of the most attractive projects, and onshore wind won’t be deployed at the rate needed to reach Scotland and the UK’s net zero targets without intervention from government to provide revenue stabilisation. This could come through access to CfD auctions or more robust carbon pricing over the long term to stabilise future power prices.
The Committee on Climate Change has advised governments that onshore wind capacity needs to expand by at least 1GW a year to achieve net zero emissions targets, reaching 35GW by 2035.
Jim Smith said: “Onshore wind is the cheapest form of low carbon generation and brings job and investment to rural communities. Yet despite the climate emergency, onshore wind construction is at the lowest it has been in a decade.
“We urge the UK Government to ensure onshore wind can be developed at the pace and scale set out by the Committee on Climate Change by providing investors with more certainty over the income they will receive for generating zero-carbon power in the longer term.
“Accelerating onshore wind development would be a quick win for Government as it looks to set out plans to meet net zero in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow this year.”
SSE Renewables is committed to further developing the Scottish supply chain and is encouraging businesses to bid for contracts for the Gordonbush Extension project. It will engage with the Highlands and Islands Open4Business platform and host Meet the Buyer events for the local supply chain to help them maximise the opportunities available for local businesses to work on the extension.
The developer has appointed RJ MacLeod, one of Scotland’s largest privately-owned civil engineering and building contractors, as the preferred principal contractor of the civil and cabling works.
SSE already owns over 2GW of onshore wind, has over 1GW of onshore wind in development and is committed to reaching 30TWh of renewable generation by 2030.