Scotland’s national forest estate now has installed capacity of over 1 GW of renewable energy, generating enough electricity for around 500,000 homes each year.
This capacity is contributing to the Scottish Government’s target to supply 100 percent of Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The boost has been achieved by Forest Enterprise Scotland and a number of key energy companies who have developed renewable technologies on the estate.
“Our national forest estate is delivering on a number of fronts for the people of Scotland” said Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing. ““This generation of clean renewable energy generation is playing an important contribution to our ambitious climate change programme. However, the benefits don’t stop there. Communities across the country, often in remoter rural areas, are currently benefiting from over £2.7 million each year in community payments as a result of these renewable energy projects. This extra money is often welcome in helping communities with local initiatives.”
Mr Ewing announced the 1 GW milestone during a recent visit to Scottish Power’s Harestanes windfarm near Dumfries. The majority of the 1 GW capacity is from wind farms with the remainder from small scale hydro.
Forest Enterprise Scotland receives around £11 million each year from leasing the land for energy projects with the income being reinvested into various forestry programmes.
Harestanes windfarm was officially opened by Mr Ewing back in 2014. The 136 MW windfarm generates around 212,000 MWh of electricity each year. Approximately £300,000 of community benefit is paid each year into a fund for the people of Annandale and Nithsdale. The windfarm has also created 11 kilometres of new tracks and paths throughout the forest which the public can use for recreation. Mountain bikers have also benefited with a new 4 kilometres trail being built on the 7stanes route.
“Our work with Forest Enterprise Scotland stretches for almost 20 years, and we have helped to deliver a portfolio of projects which contributes to the fantastic achievement of the 1GW milestone” said Kenny Peberdy, UK Onshore Director for ScottishPower Renewables. “We hope to continue this successful working relationship for many years to come, not only to develop new windfarms, but also to extend the life of existing projects and to re-power other sites. As the world strives for a carbon free energy environment, it is important that this gigawatt of clean electricity does not diminish in the years ahead. Harestanes itself is a great example of the additional benefits that renewable energy can provide. Beyond the clean megawatts of electricity, the project has also enhanced the recreational use of the land and millions of pounds of funding will benefit local communities.”
Michael Ansell, Head of Estate Development with Forest Enterprise Scotland added that Scotland’s national forest estate is ideally placed to help the Scottish Government meet its renewable energy targets and deliver for communities at the same time and that Forest Enterprise Scotland is continuing to support renewable energy with around a further 80 MW under construction through a number of projects. Another 330 MW of renewable capacity is awaiting construction and a further 250 MW is awaiting the green light through the planning system.
Image: Left to Right: John Alexander (Scottish Power), Michael Ansell (Forest Enterprise Scotland), Tony Gannon (Scottish Power), Fergus Ewing (Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity). Photo taken at Harestanes wind farm.