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Gordonbush wind farm 11-turbine extension to be built by SSE Renewables without government subsidy

By John Davidson

More turbines will be built at Gordonbush Wind Farm - without government subsidy.
More turbines will be built at Gordonbush Wind Farm - without government subsidy.

Scotland’s newest onshore wind farm will be built subsidy-free after SSE Renewables confirmed an 11-turbine extension to its Gordonbush wind farm.

The company originally completed the 70MW, 35-turbine farm, located 12km north-west of Brora in Sutherland, in 2012 – but the UK government removed onshore projects from its support scheme in 2015.

That led to a reduction in the number of developments, despite onshore wind being the cheapest form of renewable energy generation available.

Now, in a first for the renewable energy developer, SSE Renewables will fund the extension on a merchant basis after getting revised consent for the project in November when Scottish ministers granted approval.

Jim Smith, SSE Renewables managing director, said: "It’s been almost two years since we last completed construction on an onshore wind farm so we’re really looking forward to putting the first spade in the ground on Gordonbush extension.

“Onshore wind is the cheapest form of low-carbon generation, it brings jobs and investment to rural communities. Yet, despite the climate emergency, onshore wind construction is at the lowest it has been in a decade.

“It’s great to be able to start building again through this extension, but we urge government to do more to support this technology so net-zero targets can be achieved.”

The new extension will use some of the existing infrastructure and the grid connection of the original Gordonbush wind farm.

SSE Renewables has appointed RJ MacLeod, one of Scotland’s largest privately-owned civil engineering and building contractors, as the preferred principal contractor of the civil and cabling works.

Supply chain companies are being urged to register for possible contracts on the Highlands and Islands Open4Business platform, and SSE Renewables says it will also host a meet the buyer event to help local firms benefit from the project.

Sandra McCaughey, programme manager of Open4Business, said: “It’s great news to hear that SSE Renewables will be beginning construction on Gordonbush extension shortly. Open4Business has a strong track record of bringing opportunities on wind farm projects like Gordonbush extension to local companies.

“These contracts can range from catering and cleaning to civil construction and we would encourage any businesses in the area with an interest in finding out more about how they can be involved in the project to register on our Open4Business Highlands website.”

Construction of the wind farm extension will commence in March 2020 and first generation at the site is expected later in the year.

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