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Beatrice, Hywind and Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm are just the start of the offshore wind industry revolution in Scotland

By Scottish Renewables

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By Fabrice Leveque, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables

Offshore wind presents an enormous economic and environmental opportunity for Scotland.

Challenging conditions in Scottish waters have already called for creative approaches which have prompted incredible innovation in the sector, but with a quarter of Europe's offshore wind resource, we have only just started to harness its potential.

Five offshore wind farms are currently operational in our waters, meaning Scotland now has just under 1000MW of installed capacity, enough to power the equivalent of around 645,000 Scottish homes.

Off the coast of Aberdeen, the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre is the country’s largest test and demonstration facility and is currently home to the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine, at 8.8MW.

The 84-turbine Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, which opened this summer after eight years of development, is a sign of the ongoing transition from oil and gas to renewable sources of energy, standing as it does alongside the now-redundant oil field after which it was named.

Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm completed May 2019..
Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm completed May 2019..

Floating offshore wind, where turbines tethered to the seabed generate electricity, has the potential to provide clean electricity from locations where other renewable energy devices cannot be deployed, and Scotland is already leading the way, with Hywind, the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, energised in our waters in 2017.

There are 11 new offshore wind projects currently in the pipeline, either awaiting construction or with planning permission granted, which together would increase Scotland’s generating capacity by more than 6700MW.

But offshore wind is a truly global business and Scottish companies, at all stages of the supply chain, are competing at a global scale.

No one company can afford to finance these multi-billion-pound projects – the Beatrice offshore windfarm alone cost £2.6 billion pounds, almost twice the cost of the new Queensferry crossing.

As we begin to build out the projects which can capture that tremendous offshore wind resource, it is important that government, industry and the supply chain itself are firmly focused on delivering the best outcomes and the best local economic impacts possible from the projects which develop in Scotland's waters.

The 54-turbine Neart na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Farm, 15km off the Fife coast, is a great example of what collaboration can achieve. Scottish engineering firm BiFab has been awarded a contract to build some of the foundation jackets, the Port of Dundee has been selected as the assembly point for the wind turbine generators and Eyemouth Harbour has been chosen as the preferred supplier to operate and service the wind farm over its 25-years lifetime.

The geographical reach of this project alone is vast, bringing environmental and economic benefits to communities across the country – not only during development, but the 20-plus years of operations and maintenance after completion.

EOWDC Nicola Sturgeon3 Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Vatenfall
EOWDC Nicola Sturgeon3 Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Vatenfall

The offshore wind industry currently supports the equivalent of 3400 people in full-time employment across Scotland, which is only set to increase as more projects are deployed.

Scottish Renewables’ Offshore Wind Conference, Exhibition & Dinner – on January 28 and 29 in Glasgow – will bring industry together to explore the progress made by the sector over the past year and look to the future opportunities presented by this growing industry.

Delegates will hear from industry experts on offshore wind’s industrial impacts across the UK and explore how successes in places like the Humber and East Anglia can be reproduced in Scotland.

Building and developing the Scottish supply chain to create the right conditions for success will also be a key topic.

Industry experts will discuss planning and explore how improving understanding of the marine environment can support future deployment.

The challenges of how best to integrate and optimise the rapidly-expanding offshore wind fleet onto the grid will also be considered.

Developers of offshore wind projects in the planning and development phase around Scotland will also give delegates an update on their progress and an insight into the upcoming development pipeline for the Scottish sector.

We look forward to seeing you at the conference to discuss these issues and many more.

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