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Bold bid to increase offshore wind capacity in Scotland eightfold

By Calum MacLeod

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The launch of the new offshore power group signals new ambitions for the sector.
The launch of the new offshore power group signals new ambitions for the sector.

A new group created to lead and grow Scotland's rapidly expanding offshore wind power sector has announced bold plans for an eightfold increase in energy generation over the next decade.

If this target is achieved, it would provide enough capacity to power every household in Scotland twice over.

The Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC) revealed its plans to coincide with its official launch.

The new body also aims to lead and support the industry, boost the local content of projects and increase jobs in line with the sector deal signed between industry and the UK government in March.

The council is co-chaired by Scottish Government energy minister Paul Wheelhouse and Brian McFarlane, head of projects for offshore development at SSE Renewables.

Its membership also includes Scottish Renewables, Scottish Enterprise, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, Crown Estate Scotland, Red Rock Power and the Energy Skills Partnership.

The key aims of SOWEC will be to deliver an offshore wind sector which delivers jobs, investment and export opportunities in line with the UK sector deal as a key part of the path to achieving net-zero emissions by 2045.

Scotland currently has around 1GW of operational offshore wind, which SOWEC hopes to see increase to 8GW – enough to power the equivalent of 5.2 million households, more than double the number in Scotland.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Offshore wind presents an enormous opportunity for Scotland, both in terms of its ability to help us decarbonise our energy system and in terms of its potential to generate economic value for Scotland.

“The Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council has been created to ensure that all those involved are pulling together to deliver on bold plans to create a competitive, commercially-attractive offshore wind sector in Scotland which can deliver both domestically and in the global offshore wind market, with opportunities to develop a globally-competitive supply chain for fixed foundation and floating wind technologies.

“The broad nature of the group – including as it does representatives from both the public and private sectors – and the skills and experience on which it can draw give Scotland the very best chance of success in offshore wind as these multi-billion pound renewable energy projects build out in Scottish waters.”

The group's other goals will include developing a plan for offshore wind to help contribute to achieving Scotland’s net-zero target, the creation of a competitive, commercially-attractive offshore wind sector in Scotland and the development of a sustainable, world-class supply chain in Scotland.

These aims could see the number of offshore wind jobs in Scotland increase to more than 6000, it suggests; an increase of 75 per cent on 2019 figures.

SOWEC co-chairman Mr McFarlane added: “Offshore wind is great news for Scotland, delivering jobs, reduced carbon and lower energy bills.

“The council’s goals are aligned around the need to capture Scotland’s offshore renewable energy resource in a way which delivers maximum economic and environmental advantage.

“Offshore wind will play a key role in our efforts to tackle the climate emergency and achieve Scotland’s ambitious net-zero emissions target, and the members of the council are committed to ensuring that Scotland makes the most of this most innovative of technologies as we seek to further decarbonise our energy system.”

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