Construction work has started on a windfarm development in rural Scotland which highlights the complexity of the debate about the energy transition.

EDF said the start of work on the site of the Stranoch windfarm in Dumfries and Galloway represented a milestone in accelerating Scotland’s journey to a net zero future.

The French energy giant reckons the 20-turbine development between New Luce and Barrhill will make an important contribution to the supply of low-carbon electricity in Scotland while helping to boost the economy.

The company said its EDF Renewables-UK arm has struck a deal with Tesco under which the retailer will buy a proportion of the windfarm’s electricity generation. EDF reckons this would be sufficient to power the equivalent of more than 80 average sized supermarkets for a year.

Glasgow shipyard owner BAE Systems has also signed a power purchase agreement in respect of the output from the windfarm. EDF said this would provide clean energy to power around 40 per cent of BAE Systems’ current UK energy demand.

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EDF said it is prioritising working with Scottish and local businesses where possible in the development of the windfarm.

It expects to contribute more than £500,000 a year to support local initiatives through a community benefit fund. This could be worth £15m plus over the expected 30-year minimum lifespan of the site.

Plans for a windfarm on the Stranoch site have provoked opposition amid concern about the impact on the area.

Dumfries and Galloway council objected to a previous proposal on the grounds of the cumulative impact of the development. The Scottish Government approved the scheme concerned in 2016. A study completed by the council the same year highlighted the “considerable amount of windfarm development in Dumfries and Galloway and the continuing demand for larger turbines”.

A spokesperson for EDF said: “To improve renewable energy generation and the viability of the site, the original layout was revised and a new planning application submitted in October 2018 to the current design.” This won planning consent in 2021.

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While Scottish building firms RJ McLeod and I&H Brown will work on the Stranoch site, a significant share of the value of work on the development looks set to go to firms based outside Scotland.

Vestas of Denmark will supply and instal the turbines.

Asked about the potential jobs impact of the windfarm the EDF spokesperson said: “The site once operational will be managed by our current asset operations team in Scotland.”

EDF will be guaranteed a minimum price for the plant’s output under the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference programme. The costs of this are added to household energy bills.  

 EDF said corporate Power Purchase Agreements like those struck with Tesco and BAE Systems allow businesses to buy electricity directly from an energy developer and from a specific site.

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But EDF will not create physical links between Stranoch and the facilities of the customers.  The firms will make payments to EDF which will be calculated based on the output of the windfarm.