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Windfarms in Ross-shire

Text:  Angus Christie

Photographs:  John Finlayson

Pan Ross Utilities

Windfarms in Ross-shire

Wind power is the fastest growing renewable source of energy in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has a target of generating 31% of Scotland's electricity from renewables by 2011 and 50% by 2020.

Two onshore windfarms have been established in Ross-shire and others are planned as of 2010.

Scotland's first offshore turbine was installed in 44 metres of water, 15 miles off the coast, in the Moray Firth in August 2006, followed by a second in 2007. These offshore turbines each have a capacity of 5 megawatts (typical onshore turbines have a capacity of 2mw).

Two established onshore windfarms in Ross-shire are located at:


Associated with the above windfarms, the developers established funds for Community Benefit. These funds provide grants to voluntary organisations within communities adjacent to the windfarm to undertake deserving projects.

In the case of Fairburn the Community Benefit is derived from:
(1) a fixed element based on the installed capacity of the windfarm;
(2) a variable element based on the actual output generated each year and the associated value of the Government's Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC).

The installed capacity figure is £2,000 per megawatt installed, giving a sum of 20 turbines x 2mw x £2,000 = £80,000 per annum. The variable element figure could be equal to the fixed element.

The distribution of the fund is in two phases:
(1) the construction phase (two years' duration)
(2) the operating phase (twenty-five years' duration).

The beneficiaries of the first phase are:

1. Marybank, Scatwell and Strathconon £57,500
2. Muir of Ord £37,500
3. Conon Bridge £25,000
4. Contin £10,000
5. Ferintosh £10,000
6. Killearnan £10,000
7. Maryburgh £10,000

The second phase beneficiaries:

1. Marybank, Scatwell and Strathconon
2. Muir of Ord
3. Contin

The second phase fund will be in excess of £2m over the 25 year period.

The Fund will be managed by The Scottish Community Foundation in association with a local committee.


Located on the Novar Estate, 5 miles (8km) north-west of Evanton and 4 miles (6km) south-west of Ardross, the Novar Windfarm covers an area of 300ha (742 acres) on the slopes to the north of Glen Glass in Easter Ross.

Ben Wyvis (a National Nature Reserve and at a height of 1046 is a Munro) lies 6 miles (10km) to the south-west.

The windfarm cost £16 million to construct and began generation in 1997.

The windfarm comprises 34 turbines each 35m (115 feet) in height and capable of generating 500kw of power, i.e. a total capacity of 17mw.

An extension to the windfarm was given Planning Approval in 2006 and is presently under construction.

The additional turbines will have a maximum power output of 2mw and with a combined maximum of 32mw this will give a total capacity at Novar of 49mw.

Location: Fairburn Estate, Strathconon, 5 miles south of Marybank.
Capacity: 40mw (2 turbines at 2mw each)

The turbines generate power at 690 volts AC at the generator. This power is transformed to DC at the top of the tower and then reverts to AC (50 cycles) at the tower base for transmission to the switch room and then to the national grid sub-station at Orrin Dam.

Construction commenced in February 2009 and commissioning was completed in January 2010.

The contractors appointed for the work:

R J Macleod (Civil), Dingwall
RE Power (Control Systems)
Scottish Hydro Contracting (Electrical), Evanton
McNally's Heavy Lifting

The construction of the Fairburn Windfarm Project is illustrated in the following photographs:


Approximately 5 miles of access and "distributor" roads had to be constructed, all to a high specification, to accommodate:

1. heavy lift cranes;
2. transport of tower components
3. transport of turbine components.

The roads were constructed from materials which were all quarried on site from two borrow pits.

Borrow pits


 Borrow Pit

In addition to the materials required for road construction, the borrow pits were established complete with stone crushing plant to produce the aggregates required in the massive quantities of concrete in the foundations of each of the twenty towers. The concrete was mixed in a batching plant also established on site.

Batching Plant

The only material for concrete production imported to site was cement. The batching plant incorporated all weighing and mixing equipment to ensure that all batches were in accordance with an exacting specification.


The power generated at each turbine is fed to a sub-station located on site before being fed to the switch yard at the Orrin Power Station and to the National Grid.

Switch Room

Tower Civil Works

The civil works incorporated:
1. Sub-base
2. Steel reinforcing
3. Mass concrete
4. Anchor ring

Note:  The Civil Works (roads, foundations and buildings) accounted for £10m out of a total project cost of £50m.


All major large components (generators, hubs, blades, towers) were shipped to the Service Base at Invergordon and transported to site by special heavy goods vehicles requiring police escort. Vehicles travelled in convoys of three; a total number of deliveries was 140.

Travelling through Conon Bridge

Exiting Conon Bridge

Passing Muir of Ord Distillery

Same location, different part


Almost there.

On site.

Turbine Assembly

After the completion of the tower, the generator unit was lifted onto the top of the tower. The hub and three blades were assembled at ground level and lifted to be assembled with the generator.

Turbine Lifting

The lifting of the turbine assembly is a complex and specialist activity using equipment and procedures which have been prepared and developed well in advance of lifting.

Note: Given favourable weather conditions and a travel schedule approved by the Police, one complete tower and turbine can be erected in a 24 hour period.

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