United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Scotland awaits offshore wind progress

More than 5GW in permitting, but no new capacity in first half 2012

The slow pace of Scottish offshore wind development has been expressed in stark terms, in a newly-published table of investment in renewables capacity, by industry body Scottish Renewables.

Presenting data on financial investment in renewable capacity that came online during the first six months of 2012, Scottish Renewables has offered a reminder that the country’s offshore wind industry is currently more focused on getting projects off the drawing board and towards the construction phase.

During H1, Scotland’s onshore wind sector added 572MW of capacity, representing total investment of about £800m. However, no new offshore capacity was installed at that time. Scotland’s total offshore wind capacity is a modest 190MW, most of which comprises E.ON’s 180MW Robin Rigg project, in the Solway Firth.

In time, electricity generation from Scottish offshore wind is expected to be substantial. One of the first projects due to come online is the 100MW European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC), in Aberdeen Bay, which will be used as a test site for emerging turbine technology. EOWDC is backed, in part, by Vattenfall.

The EOWDC has faced opposition from some, including US property developer Donald Trump. But this opposition is now receding, with a Scottish Government committee recently describing the project as being of "critical" importance.

Larger projects are at various stages of the permitting process, and provided permitting and construction phases proceed at a reasonable pace, several gigawatts of new installed capacity could be online by the end of the decade.

Scotland’s offshore wind pipeline includes:

- 1GW extension to the 10MW Beatrice project, being developed by SSE and Repsol

- 1.5GW in the Moray Firth, being developed by EDPR and Repsol

- 1GW in the Firth of Forth, being developed by SSE and Fluor

- 450MW at the Neart na Gaoithe wind farm, being developed by Mainstream Renewable Power, and

- up to 1.3GW for the Argyll Array project, being developed by ScottishPower Renewables.

It is also possible that Statoil will install a small number of floating turbines off eastern Scotland, as part of its effort to commercialise its Hywind technology. In a bid to attract such innovation, the Scottish Government may offer a higher level of subsidy for floating offshore wind projects.

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