Scotland is one of the windiest countries in Europe, while the Highlands and Islands have Britain’s most sustained wind regimes for turbines and is seeing significant new investment.
Nearly 350 onshore wind turbines are currently operating in the Highlands and Islands (31% of Scotland’s total and 12.7% of the UK total) with 486MW capacity (26% of Scotland’s total and 12.5% of the UK total). These can power nearly 340,000 average households.
Onshore wind installed generation capacity in Scotland, at 1.88GW, currently makes up about half of the country’s 3.58 GW renewables capability, and also about half of the UK’s 4GW onshore wind capacity.
This UK generation capacity is enough to provide for the average electricity requirements of all Scotland’s 2.3 million homes.
For a few hours in September 2010, generation from onshore wind in the Highlands and Islands exceeded local demand meaning that the region was powered from 100 per cent renewable energy.
Significant investment has been made at Machrihanish by Wind Towers Scotland Ltd to create a major manufacturing facility for onshore and offshore wind towers.
Wind Towers Scotland Ltd, a business growing through investment from SSE and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), commenced tower manufacturing at the Machrihanish site in August 2011. Since then the company has realigned production and expanded its finishing facilities. The company has aggressively pursued market opportunities and has been successful in securing orders from a number of different clients. Keeping pace with this has required the realignment of production and recruitment of staff.
As Scotland's only wind turbine tower manufacturer, Wind Towers (Scotland) Ltd, is a very important part of the renewable energy supply chain, as well as a significant employer in the Campbeltown area.
Chillwind, a company based in the West Highland village of Glenelg, assists developers to explore suitable sites for onshore wind farms. Specialising in wind-monitoring, over the last two decades they have installed and commissioned over 1,000 systems throughout the UK and Europe. In addition to remote access data-loggers and instrumentation, the company also designs, develops and creates meteorological masts of up to 90m.
In August 2012, Chillwind was acquired by Welsh-based Dulas. The company continues to trade as Chillwind, and said that the acquisition would result in greater efficiency and increased capacity to deliver wind monitoring projects throughout Europe, as well as attracting new clients with a wider range of renewable energy services offered by Dulas.