By Martin Williams Senior News Reporter
It is the green energy revolution that aims to transform the renewable
economy in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Nine years ago, the Scottish Government said large-scale development of
offshore wind represented “the biggest opportunity for sustainable economic
growth in Scotland for a generation”.
The world’s first floating offshore wind farm, Hywind Scotland, was then
installed by Norwegian firm Equinor off the coast of Peterhead in 2017.
But unions have become increasingly concerned the nation is losing out
financially and has called for urgent action to ensure it is cashing in on
the economic opportunities.
As the Scottish Government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75
per cent over the next 10 years – as part of efforts to make the country a
“net-zero” society by 2045 – there have been calls to end multinational
interests now “calling the shots” north of the Border.
But there remains concern foreign suppliers dominate the market, and
estimates in March put the British share well below 50%. The sector deal
aimed to increase that to 60%.
Yesterday, as French state-owned EDF announced it was moving ahead with
plans to build its largest UK wind farm off the east coast of Scotland, it
emerged Scotland was losing out on an array of contracts worth hundreds of
millions of pounds.
EDF has borrowed £2 billion in finance for the 54-turbine Neart Na Gaoithe
The firm has been previously come under fire for delays and cost over-runs
in building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset. EDF will
own half of the new wind farm development, with Irish energy firm ESB
having the remainder.
The project is due to be completed in 2023 and will provide power for
375,000 homes, with offshore construction to start next June.
Meanwhile, the troubled Fife engineering firm BiFab has not yet put pen to
paper on a deal that would see it get just 15% of valuable manufacturing
work on steel foundation jackets, with the rest of the work going to yards
in south-east Asia.
The Herald can reveal that, in a separate contract worth nearly £100m, the
Milan-headquartered telecom and electricity cable group Prysmian will
produce and supply submarine cables at its “centre of excellence” in
Pikkala, Finland. Further land cables will be manufactured in Gron, France.
Spanish-headquartered engineering company Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy
will provide the 81m-long B81 blades manufactured in its factory in Hull,
with nacelles manufactured in Cuxhaven, Germany.
It will also oversee the assembly of the wind farm turbines in the Port of
The company was unable to estimate how many jobs would be created.
But Charles Hammond, chief executive of Forth Ports, which runs Port of
Dundee, said the announcement would bring “significant benefits” to the
city and Scotland.
In addition, Belgium-based Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering
NV (DEME) was awarded a separate procurement contract, but has said it is
yet to select an inter-array and interconnector cables supplier or base
from where to operate. DEME will carry out the installation.
In 2010, a Scottish Government report stated the offshore wind sector alone
offered the potential for 28,000 direct jobs and a further 20,000 jobs in
related industries, as well as £7.1bn investment in Scotland by 2020.
Unite says this turns out to be “yet another fantasy in the so-called green
jobs revolution”, claiming the current offshore wind direct jobs figure at
In a report last month, RenewablesUK estimated floating wind farms can
support 17,000 UK jobs by 2050, and £33.6bn of economic activity.
Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse has previously said the past figure was
“based on robust industry data” available at the time that looked “very
different to now”.
Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish secretary said: “The fact remains that the
vast majority of the manufacturing work will be done more than 7,000 miles
away and then shipped back to Dundee.
“It’s a national scandal that renders Scotland’s renewables strategy as a