Scotland approves 2.2GW new offshore wind capacity

Almost 500 wind turbines spread across four offshore wind farms have received development consent from the Scottish Government, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced today (10 October).

The 485 farms, in the Forth and Tay region, could generate up to 2.3 GW of electricity, enough to power 1.4 million homes and save 135 million tonnes of C02 over their lifetime.

Ewing said: “Granting consent for these developments will enable them to bid for an offshore wind Contract for Difference (CfD) under the UK Government’s Electricity Market Reform process.”

CfDs are essentially Government contracts that guarantee a price for renewably generated electricity. If the price of electricity falls, renewable energy generators will be compensated by the Government.

Scottish reaction

The move reflects the Scottish Government’s stated goal of generating the equivalent of 100% of the country’s electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020.

Commenting on the new wind farms, Scottish Renewables senior policy manager Lindsay Leask said: “This announcement comes after years of hard work, including the production of extensive environmental surveys, from all the developers involved.

“All commercial-scale Scottish offshore wind projects now have consent, and have the potential to generate up to 4.15GW of clean electricity – enough to power up to three million homes. The focus now moves on to whether developers can access a Contract for Difference – the new support mechanism for nuclear, renewables and carbon capture and storage – which the backers of the projects need to finalise their investments.

Energy funding

Ewing also used the announcement to seemingly criticise the funding allocated to the newly approved nuclear power station in Somerset. 

“The level of support available to the offshore renewables sector sits in stark contrast to the unprecedented financial backing being offered to new nuclear plants, with a possible £35bn subsidy for the new Hinkley Point C station alone in addition to a £10bn loan guarantee, ” said Ewing.

“This inevitably means that growth in green energy will be restricted, a sector where Scotland has a competitive advantage.”
He also called for an early agreement on a 2030 decarbonisation target, suggesting it would help investment.

More consistent policymaking seems to be the order of the day. This morning, the construction industry called for the UK Government to encourage investment in sustainable building technology; while a separate report from recycling specialist Remsol warns that current energy policies are stifling the UK’s transition to a circular economy.

Earlier today edie reported on a project funded by Scottish Power owner Iberdrola and the University of Strathclyde, which will examine the installation of offshore wind farms in areas of the UK where the water depth has previously made it infeasible. 

Brad Allen

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