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United Kingdom

Scotland goes for biggest green deal yet -- Climate change levy sparks demand for 400 MW of new wind

Wind energy is to provide most of the power in the UK's biggest green electricity purchase to date. As part of a £78 million two-year energy deal, local authorities and public bodies in the west of Scotland have contracted with ScottishPower to buy 112 gigawatts of green power a year -- equal to the output of two average-sized wind farms.

The electricity comes from ScottishPower's own wind farms and small-scale hydro plants. The deal, which includes a supply of "brown" electricity and gas, was negotiated by the Authorities' Buying Consortium (ABC) -- Scotland's largest public sector purchasing agency on behalf of 12 local councils and other bodies, including the Glasgow underground train operator and police and fire services. Under the deal, green power will account for 20% of the organisations' electricity consumption over the next two years.

Cheaper electricity

The green supply saves ABC £450,000 on its exposure to the UK's new business energy tax -- the Climate Change Levy. Electricity from renewables is exempt from paying the tax which adds £0.0043/kWh to businesses' electricity bills. The green component of the contract will cut emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, by some 48,000 tonnes.

The deal gives ABC's members the lowest electricity bills since 1995 and its benefits will be reflected in the cost of powering the 8500 premises run by West of Scotland councils -- including schools, council offices, libraries and leisure centres -- comments ABC's Ronnie McLean. He adds that in a separate contract with ScottishPower, ABC has negotiated for 5% of all street lighting in the west of Scotland to be powered by renewables.

New projects

ScottishPower reports that ABC is one of a growing number of organisations, including Edinburgh University, Fife Council and Thomas Cook Travel, to opt for green energy, mostly supplied from its ten wind farms. Over the next ten years the company hopes to invest in new projects bringing its wind power capacity from 100 MW to 500 MW.

The latest wind plant under development is a 30 MW project planned to be sited on the rolling sand dunes of the Ardeer Peninsula, near Irvine, north Ayrshire. According to ScottishPower's Alan Mortimer, the company expects to apply for consent within the next couple of months.

The area was previously the site of an explosives factory established by Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. ScottishPower hopes to tie in the project with the nearby Big Idea -- a visitor attraction about invention and innovation. "We are looking at allowing visitors to the centre access to some of the turbines," says Mortimer. "That would be a unique opportunity for a lot of the public to see wind turbines at first hand."

Local attitudes are favourable towards the project, he says. Over 75% of visitors surveyed at local public exhibitions of the plans supported the project, with only 3% firmly opposed.

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