By David Bol
SCOTLAND could potentially lever in a staggering £25 billion of renewables investment, after an agreement to expand wind capacity threefold was labelled a “truly historic” opportunity to transform the nation into a net zero economy by the First Minister.
Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the 17 winners of the latest ScotWind offshore leasing auction – worth up to £700 million to the Scottish Government.
But the 25GW capacity of renewable energy the projects will generate is expected to secure at least £25 billion of combined supply chain investment and will treble Scotland’s current offshore wind capacity, and cater for twice the country’s annual electricity consumption.
The latest round of contracts also represents the world’s first commercial scale opportunity for floating offshore wind.
The Scottish Government has previously been criticised over a failure to ensure jobs and investment for offshore wind projects stay in Scotland – but the latest contracts, issued by Crown Estate Scotland, include developers pledging to invest in the Scottish supply chain, securing green jobs in the coming decades.
The First Minister insisted that the renewables boost will make sure North Sea oil and gas workers “can be confident of opportunities for their future” amid concerns over a need for a just transition away from fossil fuels industries to clean energy.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The scale of opportunity here is truly historic.
“ScotWind puts Scotland at the forefront of the global development of offshore wind, represents a massive step forward in our transition to net zero, and will help deliver the supply chain investments and high quality jobs that will make the climate transition a fair one.”
The First Minister added: “That means, for example, that people working right now in the oil and gas sector in the North East of Scotland can be confident of opportunities for their future.
“The scale of opportunity represented in today’s announcement exceeds our current planning assumption of 10GW of offshore wind – which is a massive vote of confidence in Scotland.”
BP has been awarded a fixed offshore development with a capacity of almost 3GW – costing almost £86 million while SSE has been handed a floating project for 2.6GW for the same cost.
Scottish Power, Shell and Falk have also been awarded bids in the latest round of contracts.
Some 74 applications had been made for the seabed contracts – with just over 7,000 km2 allocated out of a maximum 8,600km2 in the Scottish Government’s sectoral marine plan.
Simon Hodge, chief executive of Crown Estate Scotland, said: “Today’s results are a fantastic vote of confidence in Scotland’s ability to transform our energy sector.
“Just a couple of months after hosting COP26, we’ve now taken a major step towards powering our future economy with renewable electricity.”
He added: “In addition to the environmental benefits, this also represents a major investment in the Scottish economy, with around £700m being delivered straight into the public finances and billions of pounds worth of supply chain commitments.
“The variety and scale of the projects that will progress onto the next stages shows both the remarkable progress of the offshore wind sector, and a clear sign that Scotland is set to be a major hub for the further development of this technology in the years to come.”
Climate campaigners have welcomed the investment in renewable energy.
Fabrice Leveque, climate and energy lead at WWF Scotland, said: “These results are a big vote of confidence in Scotland’s green economy. Offshore wind has a vital role to play in helping to cut our climate emissions, and is already powering hundreds of thousands of Scottish homes.
“As we electrify more of our transport system and change how we heat our homes and buildings, it’s only right we continue to harness the power of this natural resource right on our doorstep. Each of these projects could create hundreds of jobs and will have a role in helping put Scotland on a path to a green recovery.”
The North Sea oil and gas sector stressed that the industry is “adapting their oil and gas expertise to speed up greener energies like wind”.
Oil giants eye wind boom: P24
CREDIT: David Bol