The largest wind farm in Europe has been opened by Iberdrola in Whitelee, to the west of Glasgow (Scotland). The installation consists of 140 turbines which will produce 322 megawatts of energy.
The president of Iberdrola, Ignacio Sánchez Galán, accompanied by the Scottish Prime Minister, Alex Salmond, were both present at the opening of the wind farm yesterday. Salmond is a strong supporter of renewable energy and has already given his authorization for Iberdrola to expand the capacity of Whitlee to 452 megawatts.
According to experts the wind farm located at Whitlee could reach the capacity of 600 megawatts if a viability study gives it seal of approval.
Yesterday, Galán took the opportunity to highlight Iberdrola’s leading position in the British wind power market and underlined the profitability of the megawatts produced by wind power compared to those obtained from other renewable energy sources. He said that ‘wind farms like Whitelee could be profitable without subsidies in the medium term depending on the price of CO2 and petrol but above all on the need for our countries to reduce their dependency on foreign sources of power’.
Galán said that currently the EU gets 65% of its energy from outside the EU and in Spain this figure rises to 85%. In Galán’s opinion this is an excessive proportion which should be reduced and replaced by energy sources closer to home.
Galán referred briefly to the debate on energy that the Spanish parliament plans to hold following the summer recess. He said ‘we can’t carry on buying 85% of our energy from foreign sources which is why the debate needs to be intense’. He also said that ‘throughout Europe there is talk of reducing dependency on outside sources of power and on fossil fuels and we will also be part of this process’.
When asked whether nuclear power needed to be part of this process, Galán declined to comment despite the fact that Iberdrola is collaborating in the process of the construction of new nuclear power stations in the UK in a joint project with GdF Suez and Scottish and Southern Energy.
In reply to a question over the Scottish government’s opposition to nuclear energy Galán said that ‘Iberdrola did not participate in the nuclear debate in any country and that this question was the responsibility of governments’.
The new wind farm has now taken the European crown from the one in Maranchón, Guadalajara in Spain. It is estimated that it will produce enough energy for 180,000 homes and will save around 500,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, a figure which could be doubled if the wind farm is expanded.
To date Iberdrola has invested 330 million euros in Whitelee.
This investment has been made through its subsidiary company, Scottish Power, which the Spanish energy giant took over in 2007.
Iberdrola’s wind farms in the UK produce 750 megawatts, almost half of which are in Whitlee. It is hoped that this figure will be multiplied over the next 7 years with projects underway to produce 5,100 megawatts.