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Energy generation begins at Scotland’s biggest offshore wind farm

Image: SSE Renewables

SSE Renewables and TotalEnergies, which have partnered to deliver the wind farm (taking 49% and 51% stakes respectively), announced on Tuesday (23 August) that first power generation has begun at the array.

By this time next year, the 1075MW project should be fully operational. It is hoped that it will produce five TWh of renewable electricity each year. Once fully operational, Seagreen will be operated by SSE Renewables and be Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm, stealing the title from the 950MW Moray East project.

The first phase of the Seagreen project reached a financial close in the first half of 2020. In total, the project has a $4.3bn (£3.65bn) price tag, with TotalEnergies and SSE Renewables set to contribute at least £3bn.

“We often talk about key milestones along a project’s journey, and Seagreen has had a number to date, but to see this turbine turning in the North Sea and to have reached first power safely is a fantastic achievement for everyone connected to the project,” said SSE Renewables’ director of offshore wind Paul Cooley.

“The project has already brought several benefits to the local community, the UK supply chain and, once completed, Seagreen will make a significant contribution to Scotland and the UK’s ambitious renewable energy targets.”

The UK Government boosted its offshore wind capacity target in April through the Energy Security Strategy. Under Boris Johnson’s Ten-Point Plan, the Government had been targeting 40GW of installed capacity. This was increased to 50GW. Should this target be met, half of the UK’s installed energy generation capacity will be accounted for by offshore wind in 2030.

This move followed changes to the UK’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction scheme, with rounds now set to be held annually instead of every other year. Offshore wind has been the main focus of the scheme since 2015, when onshore wind and solar were effectively banned from competing. At the latest CfD round, more than 11GW of capacity secured contracts, including 7GW Of offshore wind.

Under the 40GW by 2030 target, the Scottish Government had committed to hosting at least 11GW of capacity by the end of the decade. An update to this target has not yet been provided. However, Crown Estate Scotland has begun to auction plots of seabed to renewables developers once more, through the ScotWind leasing scheme which announced its first tranche of successful bidders in January.

For TotalEnergies, the news on Seagreen comes amid accusations of a lack of ambition and action on the energy transition. An exposee published by Channel 4 News this week stated that collectively, Europe’s four largest oil and gas companies, are investing just 5% of their profits in clean energy. TotalEnergies was grouped in with Equinor, BP and Shell.

TotalEnergies claims that it is on track to ensure that 25% of its investments in 2025 will be in renewables.

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