Plans for two offshore wind farms with a combined capacity just over 1GW have been submitted to Scottish authorities by a consortium created by SSE Renewables and Fluor. The two 525MW projects would be built in the Firth of Forth, off Scotland’s east coast.
A decision about the proposals is expected from regulatory body, Marine Scotland, by next summer, a Seagreen consortium spokesperson told Windpower Offshore.
Marine Scotland has committed itself to reaching decisions on offshore renewable projects within nine months of receiving an application. A Marine Scotland-managed public consultation about the two projects will begin later this week and run until early December.
In January, the Seagreen consortium will submit a further consent application for onshore infrastructure. It is not clear how long it will take the relevant local authority, Angus Council, to examine the application, but the two developers "hope it will be turned around by the end of the year," said the Seagreen spokesperson.
By the end of 2013, SSE and Fluor hope to have a "clearer" picture of whether the two projects are in a position to proceed, allowing the two developers to move toward final investment decisions, contract negotiations with major suppliers, and construction scheduling.
The two Phase 1 offshore wind farms have been named – for now – Project Alpha and Project Bravo, to be located 27km and 38km respectively from the Angus shoreline. Each project would feature up to 75 turbines, with export cable landfall planned for Carnoustie.
Commenting, SSE’s head of offshore development, Richard Escott, emphasised that the Round 3 Firth of Forth Zone has been earmarked to become "Scotland’s largest renewable energy project". Meanwhile, Fluor’s business development director for renewables, Graham Mason, said: "We are delighted to see our Phase 1 offshore consent applications being submitted. This comes after a significant amount of environmental study and detailed consultation with all the relevant stakeholders".
SSE’s offshore wind assets include about 350MW-worth of shares in three UK projects: London Array, Greater Gabbard and the Beatrice demonstration projects.
Fluor is a more recent entrant to the UK offshore wind market, with the Firth of Forth projects representing its first experience as a developer. The company's role as a primary contractor for the Greater Gabbard project proved a troubled one, with an ongoing legal dispute about the quality of some of the turbine foundations.
Scotland has been slower to develop offshore wind projects in its waters than its neighbour to the south, England. However, there are now signs that large-scale Scottish offshore wind projects may be built before the decade draws to a close. Submission of the Firth of Forth has come just months after EDP and Repsol’s proposal to build a series of offshore wind farms in the Moray Firth, with a combined capacity of 1.5GW. In addition, Mainstream Renewable Power has submitted plans to build a 450MW project.