ScotWind: Leasing round sees offshore wind farms totalling 24.8GW selected
Crown Estate Scotland has announced the successful bidders under its 2022 ScotWind Auction, which marked the first time in a decade that plots of Scottish seabed have been auctioned to renewables developers.
The results were announced this morning (17 January), with 17 projects selected out of a total of 74 applications. Successful applicants have been offered the chance to reserve the rights to specific areas of seabed and, subsequently, to put forward a full agreement for a wind farm. If any applications don’t make it this far, Crown Estate Scotland will offer the rights to the next highest-scoring applicant, as it seeks to maximise the nation’s offshore wind generation capacity.
Collectively, the selected projects have a total capacity of 24.8GW. This is more than double the 10GW that Crown Estate Scotland was forecasting as a minimum for this auction round – which is the first since the management of offshore wind rights were devolved to Scotland. Of the 24.8GW, more than 16GW has been allocated to floating wind farms, which can be built in deeper waters than their fixed counterparts.
The projects will cover a total of 7,000 square kilometres – 1,600 kilometres less than the Scottish Government has set aside, in total, through its Marine Sector Plan last August.
Scotland currently plays host to around 2GW of offshore wind capacity, the largest operational project being the 950MW Moray East project. That title should, in 2023, be passed to Seagreen, which will be 1GW once completed.
“Today’s results are a fantastic vote of confidence in Scotland’s ability to transform our energy sector,” said Crown Estate Scotland’s chief executive Simon Hodge.
“Just a couple of months after hosting COP26, we’ve now taken a major step towards powering our future economy with renewable electricity.”
Crown Estate Scotland noted in a statement that it will be years before we see turbines for the chosen projects being installed, as each project is subject to consenting, financing and planning stages. “stages. Responsibility for these stages does not sit with Crown Estate Scotland, and projects will only progress to a full seabed lease once all these various planning stages have been completed,” the statement reads.
Reacting to the news, WWF Scotland’s climate and energy lead Fabrice Leveque said:“These results are a big vote of confidence in renewable power and Scotland’s green economy. Offshore wind has a vital role to play in helping to cut our climate emissions, and is already powering hundreds of thousands of Scottish homes.
“As we electrify more of our transport system and change how we heat our homes and buildings, it’s only right we continue to harness the power of this natural resource right on our doorstep. Each of these projects could create hundreds of jobs and will have a role in helping put Scotland on a path to a green recovery.”
The Scottish Green Party’s energy spokesperson Mark Ruskell added: “The scale of this historic investment signals new hope for Scotland’s green industrial future and jobs for a just transition.
“This is the biggest industrial opportunity Scotland has had for decades and unlike with what happened previously, comes with guaranteed jobs in the supply chain.
“For years, the Scottish Greens have talked about the need for a green industrial strategy that can pave the way beyond the era of oil and gas, and with Greens in government, this announcement is a significant step forward.
“The Scottish Greens are committed to ensuring this green industrial revolution is delivered in a way that has a positive impact on the marine environment, with investment in mitigating any negative impacts.”
The ScotWind news comes shortly after, separately, the fourth round of the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction scheme closed. It will provide £285m of support annually to low-carbon energy generation, which Ministers are hoping will support 12GW of projects.
The UK Government notably has a commitment for the nation to host 40GW of offshore wind by 2030. The Conservative Party has historically favoured offshore wind over onshore wind or solar, as offshore wind farms present the ability for larger generation capacities. Offshore wind remains the only renewable electricity sub-sector with a specific Sector Deal.
There is also a UK-wide commitment for all electricity generated domestically to be “clean” by 2035. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is in the process of drawing up plans for delivery, which will include more renewables and nuclear as well as co-locating gas with carbon capture technologies.
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