The recent announcement that Scotland’s seabed is being reopened for new wind farm projects for the first time in a decade makes it clear that Scotland is perfectly poised to continue leading the way in the renewable energy revolution.
The launch of the new round of bidding for ‘ScotWind’ offshore wind leasing should lead to multi-billion pound investments in Scotland’s green energy sector.
After a number of years of slow progress, Scotland has seen significant movement in offshore wind projects in the last 12 to 18 months, with the Beatrice project becoming fully operational in June 2019.
In addition, Moray East and Neart Na Gaoithe started construction last year, and there was very recent news regarding the Seagreen 1 project reaching FID (Final Investment Decision) and the acquisition of a stake in the project by Total.
ScotWind will build on this progress and is the first offshore wind leasing round to be administered in Scotland. It is not only a pivotal reinforcement of the Scottish Government’s commitment to meeting its target of net zero emission of greenhouse gases by 2045 but also a significant opportunity to develop Scotland’s economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is hoped that the expansion of the offshore wind sector will provide a significant opportunity to invest in the supply chain to create more jobs across the energy sector and to make the most of the opportunities that projects of the size and scale of offshore wind represent.
As noted by John Robertson, Head of Energy and Infrastructure at Crown Estate Scotland: “Scotland [has] a well-established energy skills sector as well as some of the best natural marine resources in Europe.”
We hope that this can be fully utilised to ensure significant investment and success across the entire sector, learning lessons from previous offshore leasing rounds and having the Scottish supply chain at the forefront of developments.
Electricity from renewable energy generation in Scotland continues to reach record levels and Scotland’s renewable energy capacity now totals over 11 Gigawatts (GW).
The Scottish renewable energy sector is over three times bigger than it was at the end of 2009 and turnover from renewable energy activity has topped £5,500 million in recent years; a demonstration of how the sector continues to be an important driver of investment in a challenging economic climate.
Boosted by the Scottish Government’s continued support and UK-wide policy changes – including the UK Government’s recent U-turn on the ban on subsidies for new onshore wind farms – Scotland’s renewable sector is well placed to demonstrate its resilience in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to flourish.
As the French philosopher Voltaire once said: “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.” Although this may seem like quite an accolade, when it comes to investment in renewable energy and a commitment to reaching net zero, Scotland’s record and future ambitions in this sector are certainly worthy of global attention.
Olivia Smith is a Solicitor with Burness Paull