Jess, aged 14, says: I am fascinated by the development sustainable energy sources, so I was really looking forward to visiting Whitelee Windfarm with my Grandma and my Uncle. Whitelee Windfarm contains 215 wind turbines spread out over 80km², making it the largest windfarm in the UK and one of the largest in Europe.
The visitor centre is only about 20 minutes from central Glasgow, so we drove there at around 11am. The air was cold but it was sunny and the sky was clear, meaning that we could marvel at the hundreds of windmills that stood before us. I’d never seen so many together before!
Entry to the windfarm and visitor centre was free, and we headed inside to try out the games and activities inside the exhibition. This was one large room, full of quizzes, interactive activities, and lots of information. I constructed my own wind turbine, learnt how they generate energy, and found out about the history of the site. We enjoyed the interactive exhibit which involved looking at the locations of the windmills, and picking which three we thought would generate the most power. Once we had picked, the model was turned on and the windmills spun round and round. Unfortunately none of us managed to generate the needed energy, but this was a fun insight into the management of a windfarm that we don’t know about.
Next, I had my go at managing the power produced by the windfarm. I had to take into account aspects such as time of day and weather, and changed the locations of where the power was distributed to according to these variables. In reality, Whitelee Windfarm can generate 539 megawatts on a single day, which amazed me. This means that the windfarm powers 330,000 homes!
We must have spent an hour in the exhibition – we watched videos, got fiercely competitive with strangers over a quiz (I’m pleased to say that I did the best in this), and took a look at the view of the site. We saw younger children partaking in an arts and crafts activity, but, being 13 at the time, I did not take part and instead we hopped on a tour bus to look around.
Bus tours around the site are only £3.50 for adults and £2.50 for children, and there was space for about 15 people on the bus. However, there was only one group there apart from our own, making the tour quiet and relaxing. Our tour guide was really kind and friendly, and encouraged us all to ask questions. He knew pretty much everything about the site, and told us some fascinating information.
Not only did we learn about the construction of the turbines, how they are controlled, and plans for the future, we also found out all about the site’s ecosystem. There are lots of delicate flowers and animals in the area – there are over 145 plant species, 36 fungi species, 94 lichens, and a vast collection of birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and mammals. Apparently it is very rare to see one of these, but it is possible if you look very closely when walking by the turbines. The windfarm has over 90km of parks to walk and cycle down, but we preferred to stay on the bus.
The best part of our trip by far was stopping off by one of the turbines. I loved walking underneath it, listening to how loud it was, and marvelling at how tall and wide it was. I had seen many wind turbines in my life but had never realised how big they were!
Finally our trip was over. We had spent about two hours in total looking around the farm, and I had absolutely loved it. It was a really unique and astonishing place to visit that really opened up my eyes to the future of sustainable energy. What really made the site special was how interactive it is, meaning that it is great for adults and children alike. It was a really great experience, and I definitely recommend it if you have any free time in Glasgow.
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