THOUSANDS of steel manufacturing jobs could be created in Scotland amid the boom in offshore wind in coming years with the right support, a leading sector player has signalled.
Copenhagen Offshore Partners held out the prospect that a boom in the steel industry could be one of the biggest benefits of a “step change” in the success of Scotland’s efforts to maximise the supply-chain impact of surging renewables activity.
Copenhagen is working on plans to develop a huge floating wind farm on a lease awarded to partners in the landmark ScotWind auction last year. These include Scottish energy giant SSE and Japanese conglomerate Marubeni.
The Scottish Government hopes ScotWind will deliver a huge boost to the economy although renewables activity has failed to generate benefits on anything like the scale expected so far.
However, Copenhagen Offshore Partners’ UK chief executive Alan Hannah said the wind farms it is developing could help put Scotland on track to achieve its ambitions.
The portfolio includes a demonstration floating wind farm project in the Pentland Firth. Copenhagen expects to use lessons learned on this to inform work on the giant Ossian floating wind farm, which will be developed off the Angus coast on ScotWind acreage.
Mr Hannah said: “I think we all acknowledge that the first floating projects in Scotland weren’t able to harness as much local content as you would want, so we’ve taken a different approach.”
He added: “There are very clear things that enable you to step change the local content and steel is one of them.”
Mr Hannah suggested that a range of plants could be developed in Scotland for the production of tubular steel components. These will be required in huge quantities on the wind farms that are set to be developed off the country in coming years.
Plants should be developed close to ports that will be used to support wind farm activity. Mr Hannah suggested obvious locations would include Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and the Cromarty Firth.
He noted that one such facility in Europe employs 350 people.
“It wouldn’t be so difficult given the right level of investment and support to replicate that sort of facility in the UK and Scotland,” noted Mr Hannah.
Mr Hannah reckons other obvious ways to help maximise local content would be by upgrading ports in Scotland to ensure they are suitable to support increased renewables activity and by tapping into the country’s existing offshore expertise and marine industry.
The business Mr Hannah runs is the development partner of the Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) renewables investment operation, which has identified Scotland as a key market. CIP bid successfully in the ScotWind round with SSE and Marubeni.
Mr Hannah said the waters off Scotland are ideal for floating wind farms, which can operate in much deeper areas than facilities that must be installed on the seabed.
Scotland can draw on its oil and gas heritage to play a pioneering role in the development of floating wind.
The world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind, was developed off Aberdeenshire by Norwegian energy giant Equinor. Hywind became operational in 2017.
CIP expects to draw on lessons learned off Scotland to help develop windfarms off other countries in which it has interests, such as the USA, Italy and Korea.
The 100 megawatt Pentland wind farm is expected to employ around 1,000 people on a full-time equivalent basis during the construction phase, which is due to be complete by 2026. The wind farm will employ around 85 people.
Copenhagen Offshore Partners has developed a Global Offshore Floating Wind Competence Centre in Edinburgh, which will be opened formally today. More than 50 people are expected to be employed there.
Mr Hannah noted estimates that around 2,000 supply chain jobs will be created for each gigawatt of generating capacity that is developed. The Ossian wind farm will have 3.6GW capacity. Projects on ScotWind acreage are expected to provide around 28GW capacity in total.