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Whitelee Wind Farm
Whitelee, Eaglesham Moor, near Glasgow, Scotland, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  October 2006 - January 2008
era  Modern  |  category  Power Generation  |  reference  NS590440
As we write (early 2010), Whitelee Wind Farm south of Glasgow is the UK's largest wind power generation installation, and there is more capacity planned for it. Its 140 turbines meet more than 2 percent of Scotland's power demand.
Whitelee's turbines are arranged in 12 groups. Each has a capacity of 2.3MW — giving a total power output of 322MW. The electricity they produce can provide enough for 180,000 homes. Each turbine has a tip height of 110m — from ground level to hub plus the rotor radius. Rotor blades are 45m long.
The site is 11.5km wide (east-west) and 7km long (north-south), and 370m above sea level. The main access road through the wind farm is 16.5km long, with another 70km of tracks between turbines. The 1.5 million cubic metres of rock used for access roads and turbine bases were quarried from borrow pits on site. A batching plant was set up to produce concrete for the works.
Ground conditions are difficult — typically 1-7m of peat overlying 2-3m of glacial till over the basalt bedrock. The peat can be fluid just 0.5m down from the surface.
Two thirds of the 8m wide roads are of floating construction. A geotextile mat and a geogrid are laid over the heather-covered ground, and a 600mm thick layer of rock is placed over the top. The rock is rolled, locking it in place, then 200mm of crushed rock is laid over another geogrid to make the road surface.
The turbine foundations are 3.1m deep concrete gravity bases on top of granulated fill, with bigger bases over poorer ground. The foundations sit on solid ground, so the depth of fill varies. Where foundations are in fluid peat, the excavation was kept dry by a ring of stones ‘punched’ into the peat acting as a cofferdam while the fill was placed and the concrete cast.
The reinforced concrete bases are square, tapering to an octagonal upper pedestal with two rings of cast-in bolt fixings for the mast. Bases have sides 15m, 15.85m or 16.75m long and contain up to 45 tonnes of 40mm diameter steel reinforcement and 240-300 cubic metres of concrete each.
Cabling between the turbines and to the new sub-station on site was installed before the turbine masts were erected. Some 970km of cables were laid in trenches along the sides of the access tracks.
The turbine masts were lifted in to place in two sections followed by the nacelle, the hub and the rotor blades.
The wind farm is so large that there were worries that its turbines could cause interference with the radar system at Glasgow Airport. A new radar tower was constructed on the site of a disused power station in Kincardine, Fife, to avoid the problem.
Whitelee is owned and operated by Scottish Power, who were integrated with Iberdrola on 23rd April 2007. It was connected officially to the UK's National Grid by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond on 20th May 2009. The infrastructure cost £80m of the total £300m scheme.
A £2m visitor centre was completed in summer 2009 and the site is open to the public for walking and cycling. More than two million non-native coniferous trees have been removed to help regenerate 2,500 hectares of moorland habitats.
Although Whitelee has been producing electricity since January 2008, its developers are already seeking to expand production. Planning permission for extending the wind farm was granted in May 2009. A further 36 turbines would increase total capacity to 452MW.
On 11th December 2009, Scottish Power was given permission to extend Whitelee again by adding another 39 wind turbines to the south west of the original turbine field. This would increase the power station’s output to 593MW.
Both sets of additional wind turbines will be installed in 2010-12. All 215 turbines will occupy an area of some 8,000 hectares.
Main groundworks and infrastructure contractor:
Balfour Kilpatrick / Morrison Construction Services joint venture
Turbine mast foundations: Barbour Structures, Osprey and Henderson
Turbines: Siemans
Architect (visitor centre): Hypostyle Architects
Consulting engineer (visitor centre): Arup
Quantity surveyor (visitor centre): Storrier & Donaldson
Research: ECPK
bibliography
http://news.bbc.co.uk
http://whiteleewindfarm.co.uk
www.balfourbeatty.com
www.building.co.uk
www.bwea.com
www.glasgowarchitecture.co.uk
www.nce.co.uk
www.newenergyfocus.com
Location

Whitelee Wind Farm