By Kristy Dorsey

Scotland’s oldest commercial windfarm is set for a reboot following a deal that will create one of the biggest clusters of wind power in the UK.

A total of 26 turbines at the original 16MW Hagshaw Hill, built in 1995 near Douglas in South Lanarkshire, are set to be replaced by up to 14 newer units after coming to the end of their working lives. Installation of the more efficient turbines is expected to begin in 2021/22, and will boost output to 65MW.

The revival of Hagshaw Hill is part of ScottishPower’s wider plans for the surrounding area following a separate deal to acquire a further 100MW of capacity at a nearby site.

The vicinity also includes the Hagshaw Hill extension that was completed in 2008 and will remain in operation, as well as the 55MW Douglas West development majority-owned by ScottishPower. Taken together, the area will have capacity of 220MW when all projects are complete, making it the second-largest onshore cluster of wind power in the UK after Whitelee in East Renfrewshire.

READ MORE: ScottishPower says electricity demand plunges amid lockdown 

Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, said the project will be the catalyst for launching a “green recovery” as the UK economy emerges from the crippling impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking yesterday on the industry-wide All Energy & Dcarbonise webinar series, he noted that the project is expected to create employment for up to 600 people at its peak, and 280 long-term jobs.

“Mature renewable technologies – onshore and offshore wind are now the lowest-cost and most proven means of delivering rapid decarbonisation – combined with the undeniable long-term trends in future consumer demands on electric transportation and clean heating solutions mean that there is a compelling case now for accelerating investment in a cleaner, greener society,” Mr Anderson said.

“That’s the central premise in the stimulus packages now being discussed around the world, like the EU Green Deal. And it’s what can help guide the UK’s economic recovery as well.”

Issuing its first quarter trading update last month, ScottishPower said that electricity use by its customers has plunged since lockdown came into force in the UK. With home usage dwarfed by demand for powering offices, factories, retail and other consumer outlets, the amount of electricity being used from Mondays to Fridays has fallen to lows normally only seen at the weekends when much of the business world is taking a break.

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But the company, which is owned by Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, is anticipating a strong rebound once business activity returns to normal. With the continuing push towards Net Zero, ScottishPower is maintaining plans for £1.5 billion of investment this year to keep up with the demand for clean energy.

The new wind farm developments in South Lanarkshire have been acquired from local individual shareholders of 3R Energy and Mitchell Energy, and are expected to lead to investment of more than £150 million. Planning permission is still required before work can begin on the 100MW site and Douglas West.

Planning permission is in place to repower Hagshaw Hill, which will cost in the region of £50m. ScottishPower is aiming to secure consent for the other sites so that workers can move immediately from Hagshaw Hill to the next development.

This is the third green energy deal since March by Iberdrola, which last week acquired French renewable firm Aalto Power for £89m . This secured 118MW of operational onshore wind power in France, plus 636MW of projects in various stages of development.

READ MORE: Global carbon emissions see ‘historic declines’ as energy use slumps

In March, Iberdrola increased its stake in the Saint-Brieuc offshore wind farm in France from 70% to 100%. That farm has a capacity of 496MW.

Ignacio Galan, chief executive of Iberdrola, said it is “essential” that financial recovery is aligned with climate goals.

“As we begin to emerge from the coronavirus crisis, investment in green infrastructure can quickly be delivered, creating jobs and offering immediate economic and environmental benefits,” he said. “This will help support the UK’s overall recovery at this critical time.”