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United Kingdom

Cheapest wind in the world

A 17 MW wind farm being installed in Scotland is not only the largest to be built in the UK for nearly three years, it will sell its output under a Scottish Renewables Obligation (SRO) contract for around £0.02/kWh, probably the cheapest wind power in the world. The 26 Vestas 660 kW turbines are being developed by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) for Scottish Power, which is to buy the project from RES.

The turbines are being installed at Dun Law near Soutra on the A68, a major approach road to Edinburgh. It was granted planning consent by Scottish Borders Council in 1997 after a lengthy planning process which saw vociferous local opposition. RES expects it to be operating in July. Site manager Craig Peggie was hoping last month to erect the 60 metre turbines at a rate of one a day to minimise disruption to traffic on the A68. "The only thing that might hold us up is the weather as it can get too windy to erect the turbines. However that at least confirms that we have found a good site," he says. The wind farm will meet the equivalent demand of some 12,000 homes.

The contract price is the result of the intensely competitive SRO. "It is a good news story for the industry and reflects the improvements in wind energy technology. But we cannot build many more projects at that price," says Chris Shears of RES.

Elsewhere, RES's UK development program has been less successful. Two projects in the Pennines have been turned down in recent months: 9 MW at Hogshead Hill and 13 MW at Great Hill -- both in Lancashire. Before RES decides whether or not to appeal the decisions, it is awaiting the outcome of a public inquiry into its proposed 11 MW project at Eastfield Farm at Holderness in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The inquiry result will indicate how government policy on renewables is currently being interpreted by planners, says Shears.

Despite the government's move to a new strategic regional approach to planning for renewables (Windpower Monthly, March 2000) Shears claims there are few signs of the UK wind market picking up. "We are encouraged about regional targets, but it is still just words at the moment. It will take up to a couple of years for targets to come through the system."

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