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Project able to power every home in capital

Renewables firm secures price deal on giant Fife wind farm

Ed DaveyA wind farm off the Fife coast capable of powering every home in Edinburgh is among the first recipients of a new pricing agreement that will provide guaranteed payments for the electricity it produces.

Mainstream Renewable Power has been awarded a 15-year Contract for Difference (CfD) from the National Grid for the £2 billion project.

The 450 megawatt Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm, one 11 Scottish farms to secure guarantees,  is located in the Outer Forth Estuary in the North Sea.  The CfD, which was awarded to Mainstream under a competitive tendering process and gives the wind farm an inflation-linked strike price for the duration of the contract.

The wind farm, which was awarded planning consent in October 2014, is expected to be generating electricity and fully commissioned by 2020. Mainstream will make a final investment decision early next year.

Funding for the project is well advanced, though Daily Business has learned that no decision has been made on where the 75 turbines and associated equipment will be built.

Mainstream will work in partnership with GeoSea and Siemens, which built the London Array (pictured), the world’s largest offshore wind plant.

Energy & Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey said: “This world leading auction has delivered contracts for renewables projects right across the UK. These projects could power 1.4 million homes, create thousands of green jobs and give a massive boost to home-grown energy while reducing our reliance on volatile foreign markets. The auction has driven down prices and secured the best possible deal for this new clean, green energy.”

Andy Kinsella, chief operating officer for Mainstream, said: “We look forward to getting the wind farm construction-ready over the coming months in partnership with Siemens and GeoSea.  What’s unique about this project is that it will be the first time a UK offshore wind farm of this scale will be built using project finance alone. Today’s announcement is the result of seven years of dedication and demonstrates Mainstream’s world-class expertise in project development, engineering and finance.”

This will be the first large-scale offshore wind farm constructed and operated in Scottish waters to be directly connected to the Scottish electricity system. It will have the capacity to deliver enough power for 325,000 homes (more than the number of homes in Edinburgh) and equal to 3.7% of Scotland’s total electricity demand.

The wind farm will consist of up to 75 wind turbines and will occupy an area of approximately 105 square kilometres.  At its closest point to land it lies over 15 kilometres off the Fife coast in water depths of 45-55 metres.

The subsea cable transmitting the wind farm’s power will come ashore at Thorntonloch Beach in East Lothian from where its underground cable will travel along a 12.5 kilometre route to a substation located within the Crystal Rig onshore wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills. Planning permission for the route of the underground cable was received from East Lothian Council in 2013.

Scottish renewables projects secure CfD backing, They are:

  • 448MW Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm in the Firth of Forth – could supply power to 319,000 properties
  • 177MW Dorenell onshore wind farm near Dufftown – 97,000
  • 104MW Kype Muir onshore wind farm near Strathaven – 57,000
  • 60MW Middle Muir onshore wind farm near Crawfordjohn – 33,000
  • 39.1MW Tom nan Clach onshore wind farm near Inverness – 21,000
  • 37.5MW Solwaybank onshore wind farm near Langholm – 20,000
  • 37.5MW Sneddon Law onshore wind farm near Moscow, Ayrshire – 20,000
  • 30MW Coire na Cloiche onshore wind farm near Alness – 16,000
  • 29.9MW Bad a Cheo onshore wind farm near Spittal – 16,000
  • 20MW Tralorg onshore wind farm near Girvan – 11,000
  • 10MW Achlachan onshore wind farm near Watten – 5,000

 RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “We are pleased to see these projects, which between them could power over 1.2 million homes, and create substantial numbers of jobs, and much needed investment in our communities, moving forward.

“The highly competitive prices achieved during this Auction, highlight the fact that the industry has been working hard to bring costs down, both onshore and offshore. The prices achieved by the onshore industry show what utter folly it would be to choke off this low cost form of low carbon power and the results also demonstrate that the offshore industry, provided the conditions are maintained, is well on the path to achieving its stated aim of £100/MWh by 2020.

“However, there remains a lot of work to be done to ensure that developers remain committed to the UK market, bringing forward much needed power, and economic benefits.”

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