SSE Renewables will take on construction of the 12-turbine project following its acquisition from developer RES, but said development would rely on supportive government policy.
SSE (LON:SSE) said Monday that it had reached an agreement with RES to acquire the Aberarder wind farm project in Strathnairn, near Inverness, for an undisclosed sum.
The project was granted planning consent in 2017, allowing for the construction of a 12-turbine onshore wind farm with a maximum tip height of up to 130m. Once complete, the scheme is expected to have an installed capacity of 49.9MW, enough to provide power for 50,000 homes annually.
SSE said it could begin construction as early as April 2023 with completion by November 2024, subject to a positive final investment decision (FID).
The Aberarder site lies directly adjacent to the operational 94MW Dunmaglass Wind Farm, also developed by RES and now jointly owned by SSE Renewables and Greencoat UK Wind – making the acquisition “a strong strategic fit”, executives said.
RES UK and Ireland managing director Lucy Whitford said the group was “delighted” with the sale, which marked “another milestone in our long and proud history of developing outstanding renewable energy projects in the Scottish Highlands.”
SSE Renewables director of onshore Europe Finlay McCutcheon said the scheme would add to the company’s existing 2GW onshore wind portfolio, 1.2GW of which is in Scotland.
It is also developing a further 3.8GW of onshore wind projects in southern Europe as it looks to meet the goals of its £12.5 billion Net Zero Acceleration Plan, which would see its installed renewables capacity double by 2026 and more than treble by 2031.
“Now, with the addition of the Aberarder Wind Farm project to our portfolio, we have strengthened our secured development pipeline of UK onshore wind projects to just over 1GW.
“The project also represents a strong strategic fit for our operational onshore wind portfolio given its location next to our Dunmaglass Wind Farm.”
However, Mr McCutcheon said delivery of the project and the group’s wider investment aims “will depend on there being a continuing supportive policy environment.”
It follows warnings from UK energy bosses last week that proposals within the government’s Energy Prices Bill “threaten to undermine the long-established principle of strong, independent regulation of the energy sector,” and would put £100 billion of capital commitments “in jeopardy.”
Included in the bill are mooted government plans to enact a “cost-plus revenue limit” capping the amount green energy generators can make, as well as legislation which would allow ministers to potentially intervene in the energy market.
Mr McCutcheon today added: “It’s therefore important that in implementing its planned revenue cap on generators, government gets the balance right between preventing excessive profits and retaining the attractiveness of the UK as a place to invest in order to keep the cost of capital down.”