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Dramatic growth in offshore wind energy round Scotland's coastline predicted as Crown Estate launches first leasing round in a decade


By Alan Hendry

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The Beatrice development was completed in May last year before being officially opened in July. ScotWind Leasing will allow companies to apply to build Scotland’s new generation of offshore wind farms. Picture: Bowl
The Beatrice development was completed in May last year before being officially opened in July. ScotWind Leasing will allow companies to apply to build Scotland’s new generation of offshore wind farms. Picture: Bowl

A new offshore wind leasing round is set to clear the way for dramatic growth in renewable energy around the coastline of Scotland.

ScotWind Leasing was hailed by Crown Estate Scotland, the organisation that manages Scotland’s seabed, as a multi-billion-pound investment opportunity that will form a major part of the country's "green recovery".

It is the first round of offshore wind leasing in Scottish waters for a decade and comes almost a year after the official opening of the £2.5 billion Beatrice development, Scotland's largest offshore wind farm, off the east coast of Caithness.

Announcing details of ScotWind Leasing, Crown Estate Scotland said it would enable companies at the forefront of offshore renewables to apply to build Scotland’s new generation of offshore wind farms and help power the transition to a net-zero future.

Total investment in ScotWind Leasing projects could surpass £8 billion, potentially generating more than enough green electricity to power every Scottish household. It is hoped that more than six million tonnes of CO2 could be saved each year.

The Scottish Government has a target of net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045.

John Robertson, Crown Estate Scotland’s head of energy and infrastructure, said: “This is a huge step forward in kick-starting Scotland’s green recovery, meeting net zero targets and bringing multi-billion-pound investments to benefit communities across the nation.

“Offshore wind is currently one of the cheapest forms of new electricity generation and Scotland is perfectly poised to host major new projects, with a well-established energy skills sector as well as some of the best natural marine resources in Europe.”

Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The launch of ScotWind – the first offshore wind leasing round to be administered in Scotland – is a very important milestone for Crown Estate Scotland and Scottish ministers, but also marks another pivotal moment for the development of our offshore wind sector and also presents an opportunity to help develop our strategic economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Beatrice offshore wind farm during its construction phase. Picture: Bowl
The Beatrice offshore wind farm during its construction phase. Picture: Bowl

“As we emerge from the crisis, we have a chance to re-imagine the Scotland around us and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy, one in which wellbeing, fair work and social justice are prioritised.

“Our seas are host to some of the best offshore wind resources in the world, supporting the continuing growth and expansion of the sector. We want to harness this huge resource for our energy system, unlocking significant investment in the supply chain to create more green jobs across the sector and, importantly, to do so in a way that gives due regard to our marine environment and other marine activities.

A Seacat vessel making its way from Wick harbour to the Beatrice turbines off the east Caithness coast. Picture: Colin Barber
A Seacat vessel making its way from Wick harbour to the Beatrice turbines off the east Caithness coast. Picture: Colin Barber

“My colleagues and I encourage all interested applicants to get involved in ScotWind, to bring forward projects which will help us drive forward Scotland’s green recovery and our transition to becoming a net-zero society by 2045.”

Investors and developers are now able to register interest in obtaining an "option agreement" with Crown Estate Scotland. These can lead to the signing of leases to build offshore wind farms in one of the areas of seabed to be outlined as suitable in the Scottish Government’s Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy.

Information for potential applicants is accessed through an online portal.

As part of any lease application, developers will have to submit a supply chain development statement outlining how they plan to engage with and utilise the supply chain to develop their projects.

Claire Mack, chief executive of the industry body Scottish Renewables, said: "With a quarter of all Europe’s offshore wind resource, new generations of turbines which enable us to capture it more efficiently than ever and an offshore workforce which is constantly upskilling, the stage is set for the further development of offshore wind in Scotland.

"This announcement by Crown Estate Scotland sets out the next part of that journey, providing a blueprint for the further expansion of an industry that is creating economic and environmental benefits across Scotland and helping meet our emissions targets as we progress towards net zero.

Claire Mack of Scottish Renewables at the Scottish Green Energy Awards in December 2019.
Claire Mack of Scottish Renewables at the Scottish Green Energy Awards in December 2019.

"Government and industry must now work together to maximise offshore wind deployment – and the supply chain opportunities which come with it – by removing barriers, investing strategically and making the right decisions, at the right time, to ensure this exciting sector has the confidence it needs to thrive at a global scale in the coming decades."

The 588MW Beatrice development was completed in May last year with the installation of the last of its 84 turbines. It is the fourth largest offshore wind farm in the world, generating enough energy to power 450,000 homes.

Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (Bowl) was officially opened in July when Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay, visited the operations and maintenance base in restored harbour-front buildings in Wick.

Beatrice was developed by SSE Renewables (40 per cent), with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (35 per cent) and Red Rock Power (25 per cent).


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