SCOTLAND is windy; very windy indeed. That may on occasion be a problem for walkers, tourists and golfers, but it makes the country an ideal location for renewable power.
Offshore windfarms are a particularly efficient form of generation and a hugely ambitious new initiative seeks to significantly ramp up the country’s capacity in this area.
The ScotWind project is a new seabed leasing round for future offshore turbines initiated by Crown Estate Scotland. Total investment in this could potentially grow beyond £8 billion, with six million tons of carbon saved every year.
“The planning process for this has now finished and it identifies the areas the Scottish Government has deemed to be suitable for future offshore wind development,” explains Mandy Gloyer, who is leading the input of ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) into the ScotWind offering. Areas chosen as suitable for leasing are all around the Scottish coasts. “For the first time in the UK, they will provide the opportunity for deeper waterzones that will be suitable for floating technologies.”
Development and construction is likely to take place over the next decade with operations beginning around 2030 and ScottishPower is interested in being involved. “It’s our home market and we’re already well established in terms of onshore wind,” says Mandy. “We don’t yet have an offshore windfarm in Scottish waters, though we do have two operational windfarms down south, with more in the pipeline, and we are keen on having the opportunity to get involved here.”
ScotWind is the first seabed leasing round in Scotland for around a decade and it is hugely ambitious in its scope. It could create an additional 10 gigawatts of generation – enough to power every home in the country.
Deeper water locations tend to be very windy and so capable of generating large amounts of power. “There are very real benefits to considering these new potential locations for offshore wind,” Mandy explains. “The technology in this area is developing at a rapid rate and we have learned that once you start to deploy at scale, costs can fall significantly.”
Fixed turbines are more likely to be used in shallower waters, with the final choice of technology being left to the operators. “With the degree of generation ScotWind can offer, there is massive potential. There will be benefits for jobs, local businesses and the local supply chain.”
Mandy adds: “We really are talking about a significant increase in the level of both ambition and deployment. That high level of ambition must be maintained by the Scottish Government – you need that foresight and confidence to encourage future investment.
“ScotWind has great potential to help deliver Net Zero within suitable timescales and at the scale and cost that is required. Everyone in the offshore wind industry is looking at this with a great deal of interest. It’s an exciting area and one in which Scotland really does have the potential to be a global player.”