The windfarm represents an investment of £300 million, and the 140 wind turbines cover an area of 55 km2. The developer, Iberdrola subsidiary ScottishPower, says a proposal to extend the windfarm with another 130 MW has been approved by the Scottish Government.
Scoping work is also being carried out for a second extension of 140 MW of wind power, which could bring the total capacity to almost 600 MW.
Commenting at the opening, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, said: “Our potential for electricity generation from renewables is up to 60 GW – more than 10 times our peak demand. … Whitelee in its current form is already flying the flag for onshore wind power in Europe.”
The Whitelee onshore windfarm will also feature a £2m visitor centre with an exhibition area explaining the construction of the windfarm. ScottishPower also says tours of the windfarm will be available to visitors, and there are plans to introduce buses powered by electricity from the site. The windfarm visitors’ centre is expected to be open later this summer and could be one of Scotland’s largest eco-tourist attractions.