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The UK’s largest wind farms: A roundup

Wind power in the UK is a growth industry and the private and public sector are working collaboratively to further invest in this clean form of renewable energy. Anderselite have taken a look at a number of commercial and high-output onshore wind farms already in operation across the country, most of which have been developed in stages and which will be subject to further construction.

The UK boasts one of the prime locations in the globe for wind power and is considered to be best place for the technology in Europe. Already, as of August 2013, the UK has 4,998 wind turbines, with over 10GW of total installed capacity - 64% of which is on shore and 36% of which is offshore.

Already the UK is the sixth greatest producer of wind energy in the world, recently overtaking Italy and France. Last year, an additional 1.8GW of new capacity came online, which represented a 30% increase in the country's total installed wind capacity.

British electricity suppliers are now bound by the Renewables Obligation to give a proportion of sales from renewable energy sources or be faced with stiff fees. Wind power is already the greatest source of renewable electricity and the second largest renewable energy source, after biomass.

Clyde Wind Farm
Clyde Wind Farm in Scotland's South Lanarkshire is the sixth largest onshore wind farm in the world today. It has an output of 350MW and 152 wind turbines. The wind farm has been operational since approval was made by the Scottish Parliament in 2008 and the energy output is sufficient to power
200,000 properties. The build began in 2009 alongside the M74, with turbines in place across both sides of the motorway. The farm cost around 600,000 and the build completed in 2012, providing a 'landmark stage' to the Scotland's strategy for renewable energy.

Whitelee Wind Farm
The largest wind energy farm in Europe, Whitelee has 215 wind turbines and a complete capacity of 539MW. It is operated by ScottishPower Renewables and has a further 75 wind turbines under construction, which will provide an extra 217MW of energy capacity when completed. Scotland is investing heavily in wind power and set a target to generate 31% of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2011, with the aim of providing 100% by 2020. The vast majority of this energy is expected to come from wind energy.

The Whitelee wind power farm sits 300m above sea level and is located just under 10 miles away from Glasgow. It became fully operational in 2008 and also has a large eco-tourism aspect to its operation, with an onsite visitor centre, countryside ranger group and trails for visitors. Last year it became the first wind farm of its kind to join the Scottish Association of visitor attractions - with 250,000 visitors heading to the site in the first three years of opening alone.

Other notable wind farms include Crystal Rig, which is also located in Scotland, on the Scottish Borders and Cefn Croes, located in Ceredigion in Wales. Crystal Rig was built in 2004 and was the UK's largest wind farm at the time, in terms of turbine numbers and capacity. It has been built over four stages and has 85 turbines today, with a capacity of 200.5MW.

Cefn Croes is situated in the Cambrian Mountains, just sound of the A44. It was built between 2004 and 2005 and has 39 turbines which produce a maximum output of 58.8 MW.

In Scotland, Black Law in South Lanarkshire and Hadyard Hill in South Ayrshire have both been operating for some years, 2005 and 2006 respectively. Northern Ireland has Slieve Rushen in County Fermanagh, which is the largest onshore wind farm in Northern Ireland and which opened in 2008. In England there is also Little Cheyne Court in Kent.

This technology is expected to grow further over the next few years, with Renewable UK estimating that over 2,000MW of capacity will be deployed annually over the night five years.

Future plans
Vattenfall, the state-owned energy provider has recently announced that it will be investing 460 million into two new UK projects to supply wind-generated electricity to 166,000 properties. Pen y Cymoedd wind-farm will be built in South Wales with a 25 year working lifespan, 76 turbines and a planned 228MW of power. It will become the biggest onshore wind farm project in Wales and England and will create 300 new jobs, completing its build in 2016.

The second large project is at Clashindarroch wind farm, located in Aberdeenshire. Work has already started on this site and should finish in 2015. It will have 18 turbines that will generate 36.9MW of energy.

Vattenfall has stated that it is positive about investment in renewable wind energy in the UK because the government has put concrete plans and a firm commitment into renewable energy investment and the climate is favourable for investors and the recipient communities alike.

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