SSE moves towards first subsidy-free wind farm


SSE Renewables could go ahead with a wind farm extension without subsidies after ministers agreed a change in the company’s planning consent.

Located around 12km north west of Brora in Sutherland, the existing 70MW, 35-turbine Gordonbush Wind Farm has been in operation since 2012 as part of the company’s portfolio of nearly 2GW of operational onshore wind farms across the UK and Ireland.

Consent had previously been granted in 2017 for a 15-turbine extension beside the existing Gordonbush site.

However, this revised consent will see turbine numbers reduced from 15 to 11 whilst increasing the height of the turbines by less than 20m to 149.9m.

The reduction in turbine numbers reflects the rapid development of wind turbine technology and will allow SSE Renewables to ‘take advantage of much more powerful turbines to maximise the energy generation potential and efficiency of the site.’

Gillian Wilson, SSE Renewables Development Project Manager, said: “Onshore wind farms and extensions have an important role to play in meeting Scotland’s net-zero ambitions, so we’re delighted to hear the news that Scottish Ministers have granted this extension.

“The 11-turbine extension will complement the existing Gordonbush site, harnessing more of the excellent wind resource and making use of the existing infrastructure constructed for the operational Gordonbush Wind Farm.

“We’ve been part of the East Sutherland community for almost a decade now and in that time we’ve been very pleased to have been able to help support the local community with £1.4m of approved community benefit funding to date, including supporting local employment and apprenticeships. We look forward to continuing this work in the community as we develop the extension.”

SSE Renewables will now consider the options for a route to market for the project – including the viability of building the project subsidy-free – ahead of taking a final investment decision.

Should the project reach a positive final investment decision, SSE Renewables will engage with the Highlands and Islands Open4Business platform and host Meet the Buyer events for the local and Scottish supply chain to maximise the opportunities available for local businesses to work on the extension.