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Newly opened Sutherland wind farm 'an excellent example of green recovery'


By Alan Hendry

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Scotland’s net-zero and energy secretary Michael Matheson (left) at Gordonbush Extension with Gregor Alexander, SSE finance director, and Mike Scott, project manager for SSE Renewables. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon
Scotland’s net-zero and energy secretary Michael Matheson (left) at Gordonbush Extension with Gregor Alexander, SSE finance director, and Mike Scott, project manager for SSE Renewables. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon

The newly completed Gordonbush Extension wind farm in Sutherland has been hailed by Scotland’s net-zero and energy secretary Michael Matheson as "an excellent example of the green recovery".

Mr Matheson officially opened the project today, with developer SSE Renewables emphasising that it had been delivered despite "trying circumstances" caused by the pandemic and severe winter weather.

Situated around 9.5 kilometres north-west of Brora, the wind farm comprises 11 Siemens Gamesa turbines. Construction began around 18 months ago and it started producing energy in April.

Now fully operational, the wind farm generates 38MW – enough renewable energy to power almost 50,000 homes each year, according to SSE Renewables.

Gordonbush Extension will typically save more than 37,000 tonnes annually of carbon dioxide emissions over its expected 25-year lifetime, the developer said.

Mr Matheson said: “Onshore wind is one of the most cost-effective forms of large-scale electricity generation and will be vital to Scotland's future energy mix as we end Scotland’s contribution to climate change.

"The Scottish Government’s draft Onshore Wind Policy Statement, which I intend to publish shortly, will underline the key role that onshore wind energy will continue to play in this journey, as well as our determination to seize the economic benefits from this growth.

“The Gordonbush extension project marks another step forward in decarbonising our energy demand and realising our net-zero ambitions.

"My congratulations go to everyone at SSE involved in the project. Its construction and completion, much of which has taken place since the pandemic began, is an excellent example of the green recovery we must continue to build on to ensure a just transition to net-zero.”

Gordonbush Extension is the first wind farm development to be built by SSE Renewables on a merchant basis, which means no subsidies or contract for difference (CfD) support were used to finance the project.

The construction and delivery of the wind farm earlier this year was achieved by the SSE Renewables project team in spite of the pandemic and after overcoming some of the worst winter weather in recent memory.

Gregor Alexander, finance director for SSE Renewables’ parent company SSE, said: “It is a momentous occasion for the Gordonbush Extension team and all of us at SSE Renewables to welcome the cabinet secretary and to show him what has been achieved at Gordonbush Extension.

“This wind farm is a prime example of the work we are doing to make sure we meet Scotland's and the UK’s net-zero targets. However, we should not underestimate the trying conditions under which the wind farm was delivered.

“As well as coping with extreme weather conditions, this asset has been built during a pandemic. As always the safety and welfare of colleagues has been our priority throughout, and with this in mind the Gordonbush Extension team have done a tremendous job in trying circumstances.

“Colleagues across SSE and SSE Renewables can be immensely proud of their involvement and the achievement that Gordonbush Extension represents.”

Gordonbush Extension is located beside SSE Renewables’ 71.75MW operational Gordonbush Wind Farm, which was first commissioned in 2012.


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