Soon a cluster of 220-metre high wind turbines will begin generating clean electricity in East Ayrshire, after receiving planning permission from the Scottish government.
The 22 turbines of Scotland’s “tallest wind farm” will rival the tallest buildings in the UK. If they were buildings, they’d be tied with new Isle of Dogs skyscraper Newfoundland Quay as the seventh-tallest building in the UK. They’re also significantly taller than any other structure in Scotland.
Each turbine will have a generating capacity of 4.8 (megawatts) MW. That gives the full Lethans Wind Farm a capacity of 105.6MW, making it capable of powering over 90,000 homes with renewable energy.
Banks Renewables is developing the project in conjunction with local independent renewable energy consultancy and service provider Natural Power. The project, located east of New Cumnock, originally won approval in March 2018 but has since been redesigned for efficiency, with the height of the turbines increased, the total number reduced from 26 and capacity increased from 88MW.
Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables, said: “This has taken many years of hard work, planning and close consultation with the local community and it is a major milestone to see it over the line.”
He said the project would contribute to “Scotland’s green energy agenda” and deliver “deep and long-lasting benefits to the local people, the environment and to the economy of East Ayrshire.”
During its 30-year lifespan, the Lethan wind farm will contribute at least £7.1 million into a local community benefit fund and another £7.1 million into East Ayrshire Council’s Renewable Energy Fund.
The local community body will also have the opportunity to buy a 5% interest in the project at a 25% discount.
In total, the project is expected to pour £132 million into the Scottish economy during its lifespan, including £39 million during the construction phase, with at least £16 million of that invested in the area with local suppliers and contractors.
The completion of the Lethans project will take Banks’ wind portfolio to 300MW in Scotland including the Kype Muir and Middle Muir projects, and 400MW across the UK.
The wind farm will be a further addition to Scotland’s robust renewable energy sector, which is forecast to meet 100% of the nation’s electricity demand this year, after reaching 90% in March.
Onshore wind farms like Lethans are particularly favoured in Scotland, where the government has been more supportive than Whitehall of onshore developments. Scotland currently has 60% of the UK’s onshore wind capacity.
However, electricity makes up just a quarter of the energy consumed in Scotland and trade body Scottish Renewables has urged for more investment in decarbonising other sectors like transport and heat.
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