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The Ardrossan wind farm has become a much visited renewable energy landmark in Scotland. About 40 miles southwest of Glasgow within North Ayrshire, 15 wind turbines produce enough green electricity to power around 20,000 homes with total output of the site around 30MW. All the power produced at Ardrossan is supplied to Powergen. Professional ecologists and archaeologist were retained by Airtricity to advise during the planning and construction phases, producing an Environmental Impact Assessment as part of the planning application process. In addition, noise from the turbines was raised as a concern at pre-application stage, but has not been an issue. Another concern was raised by Glasgow Airport about the possible impact on the air traffic control system; however, this was also found not to be a problem.
The Windfarm's workings
The site was commissioned in early 2004. Initially there were 12 turbines but a further three were added in 2008. Each Vesta Turbine was made in Campbeltown and can produce up to 2MW of electricty. Airtricity have been very pleased with the site because it has an efficiency of 37%. Not as high as 58% which has been achieved on one site in the Shetlands but much better than the 25% national average. The maximum power output for the site is 30MW which is achieved by the turbines turning at a modest 16.5 rpm. There is enough power for about 20,000 homes at its operational capacity of 37%. All monitoring can be done on line so that the site does not need to be manned at all times. While the turbines are low maintenance, they are monitored to ensure that they are working at optimum levels. Overall the turbines are visited about 4 to 6 times a year.
Airtricity provides a fund to assist local projects and activities, especially to encourage local schools and other community groups to visit the site to take the mystery out of windfarms.
The site continues to be used for sheep farming. Moreover, there has been no evidence of 'bird strikes' since the windfarm became operational. The highest point of the site had been an Iron Age fort; not only is it easily defensible but it has great visibility in almost all directions of the compass including a stunning view of Arran.