Whitelee Wind Farm
Whitelee wind farm with the Isle of Arran in the background
LocationMoor Rd, near Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire
Coordinates55°42′45″N 4°20′28″W / 55.71250°N 4.34111°W / 55.71250; -4.34111Coordinates: 55°42′45″N 4°20′28″W / 55.71250°N 4.34111°W / 55.71250; -4.34111
Commission dateMay 2009
Owner(s)Scottish Power
Wind farm
Hub height65 m
Rotor diameter90 m
Site area55 km2[1]
Power generation
Units operational215
Make and modelSiemens Wind Power: Siemens SWT-2.3
Nameplate capacity539 MW
External links
CommonsRelated media on Commons

Whitelee Wind Farm is a windfarm on the Eaglesham moor in Scotland. The main visitor centre is located in East Renfrewshire, but the majority of turbines are located in East Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire. It is the largest on-shore wind farm in the United Kingdom (second in Europe to Fântânele-Cogealac, in Romania) with 215 Siemens and Alstom wind turbines and a total capacity of 539 megawatts (MW), with the average of 2.5 MW per turbine.[2] Whitelee was developed and is operated by ScottishPower Renewables,[3] which is part of the Spanish company Iberdrola.[4]

The Scottish government had a target of generating 31% of Scotland's electricity from renewable energy by 2011 and 100% by 2020. The majority of this is likely to come from wind power.[5]


Positioned 300 metres (985 feet) above sea level and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) outside Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, the wind farm has over half a million people living within a 30 km radius. This makes Whitelee one of the first large-scale wind farms to be developed close to a centre of population.[5]

In May 2009, Whitelee was officially opened to the public by Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister for Scotland.[6] However, Whitelee was generating power more than a year before this with the first phase of the wind farm supplying power to the electricity grid in January 2008.

In late 2018 the BBC's Weather World program visited the farm on a record breaking day. Control Centre Manager Mark Gailey stated that the Whitelee would produce 6GWh that day.[7]

Public access and visitor centre

See also: Wind turbines on public display

Whitelee has become an eco-tourist attraction aided by an on site visitor centre. The visitor centre is host to an interactive exhibition room, cafe, shop and education hub. It was officially opened to the public in September 2009.[8] The visitor centre also gives access to a network of over 90 km of paths for cyclists, ramblers and horse riders.[9] The visitor centre is managed by Glasgow Science Centre and offers activities for education and community groups.[8] There is also a dedicated - free - electric vehicle charging station.

Whitelee wind farm has a Countryside Ranger Service operated jointly by East Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire councils that works to promote and develop access opportunities for the public within the wind farm and wider area, as well as operating an annual program of free activities and events open to the public. The Whitelee Countryside Ranger Service[10] also works to encourage and assist community and charity organisations to use of access opportunities within the wind farm for fundraising and charity events. The Ranger Service forms part of the Whitelee Access Planning Group[11] which is made up of the wind farm operators, land owners, the three local authorities the wind farm comes within, local community groups and other interested parties to the site.

In January 2014 work began on a purpose built single track mountain bike course at the windfarm, within a hollow created by a former borrow pit that was used to supply stone during construction of the windfarm. This development is being led by East Renfrewshire Council on behalf of the Whitelee Access Planning Group. The track has been designed by Phil Saxena of Architrail Ltd – designer of the 2008 Beijing Olympic and 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games XC courses.

The project has followed strong public demand for more technical MTB facilities at Whitelee. Its setting within the UK’s largest onshore windfarm will make it unique amongst trail centres. The plans will provide graded trails to suit a wide range of users, from beginners to more experienced riders. The course will offer a mix of route options, technical sections and challenges, as well as a large picnic and viewing area, with wet weather shelters for use by families, clubs, schools etc. The facilities will extend across an area of approximately 12 hectares and will be free to use, 7 days a week.

The site also hosts an annual running event called "Run the Blades", with a 10K, half-marathon and a 50K ultra-marathon distance to choose from.[12]

In June 2012, Whitelee wind farm became the first wind energy project in Scotland to join the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions. The management took the decision after nearly 250,000 people had visited the site since its opening since July 2009. ScottishPower Renewables said that nearly 10,000 pupils had so far visited Whitelee on school trips. In addition, at least "another 100,000 people had accessed the wind farm's 96km (56 miles) of trails for recreational purposes such as jogging and cycling".[13] By 2020 the onsite visitor centre had more than 700,000 visitors and the increased the length of tracks to 130km available walk or cycle.[14]

Lochgoin Farm and Monument

Lochgoin monument and farmhouse
Lochgoin monument and farmhouse

The wind farm area includes Lochgoin Farm, the home of the Howie family which in the 17th century was a noted refuge for Covenanters, and was searched multiple times by government soldiers. In the 18th century John Howie became a biographer who recorded the lives of Covenanting martyrs in books published from 1775 onwards. In 1896 a stone obelisk was erected nearby as a monument "in memory of John Howie, author of the Scots Worthies"; this is accessible by the tracks leading from the visitor centre. A small museum at the farm holds relics of Covenanters, check for opening arrangements.[15][16]


In May 2009, the Scottish Government granted permission for an extension to the wind farm to produce up to a further 130 megawatts of power,[17] which would increase the total generating capacity of Whitelee to 452 MW.[18]

In 2010 a 75 turbine extension commenced, adding an additional 217 MW of capacity, enough to power the equivalent of over 124,000 homes. This brought the total generating capacity of the wind farm up to 539 MW. Additionally, the extension added a further 44 km of trails to the site. John Sisk and Son Limited and Roadbridge were jointly appointed as Principal Contractors for the site during construction with Alstom Limited erecting and commissioning the wind turbines. [19]

In August 2012 Scottish Power announced that it was applying for a further small extension of five turbines on the west of the existing site, adding 12 MW of capacity.[20] This was refused by the DPEA on 19 Oct 2016.[21]

A £21 million (US$29.35 million) 50MW/50MWh grid battery is being added to improve resource utilization,[22] with plans for a 40 MW solar farm and a 20 MW hydrogen electrolyzer.[23]


On 19 March 2010 a blade snapped off a turbine, resulting in temporary suspension of operations while safety checks were completed on all other turbines on the site. Following the accident Keith Anderson, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, said: "This type of incident is exceptionally rare and highly unusual."[24]

In March 2017 a turbine lost its nose cone, the entire site was closed until such time as the remaining turbines could be checked and tested.[25]

On 29 March 2017 a worker fell from a turbine while it was undergoing maintenance, though that was not linked to his death. The Police are not treating his death as suspicious.[26][27]

See also


  1. ^ "Sorry, we couldn't find that page".
  2. ^ "Whitelee Windfarm". Scottish Power. Archived from the original on 28 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Welcome - Scottish Power Renewables".
  4. ^ "Rates and offers for electricity, gas and electricity". Iberdrola.com.
  5. ^ a b "Europe's Largest Onshore Wind Farm Is Switched on in Scotland".
  6. ^ "Whitelee Windfarm Officially Opened".
  7. ^ Weather World. BBC News. 1 January 2019. 24 minutes in.
  8. ^ a b BBC News "Wind farm education centre opens" Retrieved 21 September 2009
  9. ^ BBC News "Visitor centre showcases windfarm" Retrieved 26 August 2009
  10. ^ "Whitelee Countryside Ranger Service".
  11. ^ "Whitelee Access Planning Group". Archived from the original on 6 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Take on Run the Blades with Breaking Strain Events".
  13. ^ "Whitelee Wind Farm joins major tourist attractions body". BBC News. 20 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Whitelee Windfarm - Scottish Power Renewables".
  15. ^ "Lochgoin Farmhouse And Monument To John Howie". Canmore. 23 August 1956. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  16. ^ "Covenanters". East Renfrewshire Council. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  17. ^ Largest wind farm to be expanded. BBC News 20 May 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2009
  18. ^ Iberdrola press release dated 20 May 2009. Retrieved 15 May 2009
  19. ^ SPR awards Whitelee Extension Contract [1] Retrieved 7 January 2014
  20. ^ BBC News "Scottish Power wants Whitelee wind farm third extension" Retrieved 17 September 2012
  21. ^ "Scottish Government - DPEA - Case Details". www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  22. ^ Lempriere, Molly (4 March 2021). "Maximising revenue through flexibility: colocation of wind and storage". Energy Storage News.
  23. ^ Snieckus, Darius (12 April 2021). "Scotland's giant Whitelee wind farm in frame to power hybrid Iberdrola hydrogen complex | Recharge". Recharge | Latest renewable energy news. Archived from the original on 12 April 2021.
  24. ^ Blade snaps off huge wind turbine. BBC News 23 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-23
  25. ^ "Wind turbine at Whiteleehill farm loses a nose cone". www.glasgowsouthandeastwoodextra.co.uk. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Wind farm worker dies after falling from turbine". STV News. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  27. ^ Ward, Paul (31 March 2017). "Windfarm worker falls to his death from turbine near Glasgow". dailyrecord. Retrieved 7 November 2017.


A panoramic view of the Whitelee wind farm with Lochgoin Reservoir in the foreground.