Scottish Government joins devolopers in offshore wind collaboration

The Scottish Government has announced a £7.9m collaboration with nine of Europe's largest offshore wind developers to reduce costs, and improve efficiency and availability of offshore wind farms, easing doubts about the UK's ability to invest in renewables post-Brexit.

As part of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme, developers Dong Energy, EnBW, E.ON, Iberdrola, RWE, SSE, Statkraft, Statoil and Vattenfall have signed up to the initiative to help reduce the cost of offshore wind to below £100 per MWh by 2020.

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse said: “The OWA is a collaborative programme run by the Carbon Trust, which aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind through technological innovation.

“Previous Scottish Government support for the OWA has helped develop new ideas in key areas of importance to companies operating in Scottish waters and I have no doubt this new funding will help firms to continue this important work.

“Only last month, around 350 jobs were announced as a direct result of the construction of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, highlighting the massive opportunity offshore wind presents to Scotland and the Scottish economy.”

‘Right solutions’

Established in 2009, The OWA programme has maintained an industry collaboration with European offshore wind developers to identify and commercialise a series of innovations which aim to reduce the costs of offshore wind.

Over the next four years the developers will collectively invest at least £6.4m, boosted by a further £1.5m from the Scottish Government in an attempt to impact the levelised cost of energy (LCoE) from offshore wind.

The Carbon Trust’s chief executive Tom Delay commented: “Over the last five years the cost of energy from offshore wind has decreased significantly, largely driven by a combination of innovation, risk reduction and increased deployment rates. But we need to continue building on this success by getting the right solutions into market quickly to put offshore wind on the path to cost competitiveness by 2020.

“The OWA has an impressive track record, providing an effective mechanism for public and private sector to work together to meet the cost reduction challenge head on. Its success lies in the sharing of the risks and rewards of innovation through industry-led collaborative research, development and deployment.”

The vote to leave outcome casts doubt over the UK’s ability to collaborate with other European nations in efforts to boost renewable productivity. The UK was not a part of the nine-strong team of Northern European countries to sign an agreement on enhanced cooperation within the offshore wind sector. The deal aims to reduce the costs and accelerate the deployment of wind power at sea through joint development and purchasing.

Wind of change

The announcement arrives during an uncertain period for UK’s investment on renewables following the decision to leave the European Union (EU).

Earlier this week, German energy firm Siemens told the Guardian it is putting new wind power investment plans in the UK on hold due to uncertainty caused by last week’s Brexit vote.

George Ogleby

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