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Scotland plans world's largest offshore wind farm

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To Donald Trump's chagrin, they blow more than just bagpipes up there. A Spanish-Portuguese-Chinese team proposes a 115-square mile facility to power 40 percent of the country's homes.

Firth to Come Forth: The Moray Firth, seen here between a beach at Findhorn, Scotland and the Sutors of Cromarty in the Highlands, could emerge as a big source of renewable offshore wind energy.

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A Spanish-Portuguese-Chinese company has submitted plans for an offshore wind farm in northern Scotland that would be the world's largest.

The £4.5 billion ($7.2 billion) 115-square mile facility would have 339 turbines with a generating capacity of 1.5 gigawatts - about the same as a large nuclear power station, and enough to power at least 800,000 homes, or about 40 percent of the country's households, the Guardian reports.

It's Windy Up There: The Moray Firth juts into northeast Scotland from the North Sea, near Inverness.

A company called Moray Offshore Renewables hopes to start producing electricity from the project by 2018 some 12 miles off the coast in the Moray Firth, a wide inlet of the North Sea near Inverness.  The project is separate from the proposed offshore wind farm in nearby Aberdeenshire opposed by developer Donald Trump, who's worried it will spoil the views from a luxury golf resort that he's building.

Moray Offshore Renewables is a joint venture between Spanish oil company Repsol and Portuguese power company Energias de Portugal. China's stated-owned Three Gorges Corp. recently acquired 21 percent of EDP from the Portuguese government. Three Gorges led the construction of China's environmentally destructive Three Gorges Dam - the world's largest hydroelectric plant.

Moray must first receive planning permission, which is not a certainty.

If the scheme goes as planned, it would be larger than the London Array, 1-gigawatt off shore wind farm under construction in the Thames Estuary which if completed by the target year 2015 would be the world's largest.

Images: Beach, firth and highlands from Dr. Richard Murray. Map from Kmusser. Both via Wikimedia Commons.

More offshore wind on SmartPlanet:

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure