Mainstream to build stg£2bn offshore wind farm in Scotland for UK government

26 Feb 2015

Dublin-headquartered Mainstream Renewable Power has secured a 15-year contract from the UK National Grid for a 450-megawatt Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm in the Outer Fourth Estuary in the North Sea.

The wind farm, which was awarded planning consent in October 2014, is expected to be generating electricity and fully commissioned by 2020.

Funding for the project is well advanced, having pre-qualified for the Infrastructure UK Treasury Guarantee and the new €315bn European Fund for Strategic Investments.

“This world-leading auction has delivered contracts for renewables projects right across the UK,” Energy & Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said.

“These projects could power 1.4m homes, create thousands of green jobs and give a massive boost to home-grown energy while reducing our reliance on volatile foreign markets. The auction has driven down prices and secured the best possible deal for this new clean, green energy.”

This will be the first large-scale offshore wind farm constructed and operated in Scottish waters to be directly connected to the Scottish electricity system.

The 450-megawatt wind farm will have the capacity to deliver enough power for 325,000 homes (more than the number of homes in Edinburgh) and equal to 3.7pc of Scotland’s total electricity demand.

Unique wind project

The wind farm will consist of up to 75 wind turbines and will occupy an area of about 105 sq kilometres. At its closest point to land, it lies more than 15 kilometres off the Fife coast in water depths of 45-55 metres.

“What’s unique about this project is that it will be the first time a UK offshore wind farm of this scale will be built using project finance alone,” said Mainstream chief operating officer Andy Kinsella.

“Today’s announcement is the result of seven years of dedication and demonstrates Mainstream’s world-class expertise in project development, engineering and finance.”

The sub-sea cable transmitting the wind farm’s power will come ashore at Thorntonloch Beach in East Lothian, from where its underground cable will travel along a 12.5km route to a substation located within the Crystal Rig onshore wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills. East Lothian Council granted planning permission for the route of the underground cable in 2013.

NnG will create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs during its construction, as well as throughout its operational life.  

Offshore wind farm image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years