SSE to combine projects to create 4.1GW offshore wind farm in Scotland

Pictured: Berwick Bank Project Director Alex Meredith

SSE is combining the Berwick Bank and Marr Bank offshore wind farms, off the east coast of Scotland to create the Berwick Bank Wind Farm.

The potential output of this singular windfarm could reach 4.1GW, which would more than double the size of the current offshore wind project pipeline in Scotland.

The farm would increase the country’s overall renewable energy capacity by nearly 30% and could provide enough clean energy to power more than five million homes – avoiding eight million tonnes of carbon annually. This is similar in size to Scotland’s annual car emissions.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Climate Change Michael Matheson said: “Decarbonising our energy demands is a vital component of our just transition to net-zero and our world-leading renewables sector will play a vital role in this.

“The continuing growth of offshore wind over the next decade will be crucial to meeting our incredibly stretching, near-term climate targets, and we will need to work innovatively, at pace and with agility to do so. I welcome this announcement from SSE Renewables which demonstrates their commitment to helping Scotland’s contribution to climate change within a generation.”

The Berwick Bank Wind Farm has a planning application that is expected to go to the Scottish Government in Spring 2022. If consented, the farm could start generating electricity in the second half of this decade.

It will also assist with Scotland’s net-zero target for 2045 and a wider plan to generate up to 11GW of new offshore wind by 2030.

Earlier this year, SSE unveiled plans to invest £2bn in low-carbon projects and supporting infrastructure this financial year, after posting a rise in profits led by renewable energy.

SSE is aiming to deliver on a commitment to invest £7.5bn in decarbonisation by 2025. The firm first announced this ambition last year, alongside a 2050 net-zero target.

Now, it has confirmed plans to allocate £2.5bn of this package during the 2021-2022 financial year. Major portions of this funding will be used for the construction of the Seagreen offshore wind farm in Scotland and the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm in North East England – the latter of which is set to be the world’s largest.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that The Dogger Bank Wind Farm will have its new operations and maintenance (O&M) base constructed and operated under recognised standards for net-zero buildings.

The O&M base will be constructed in line with the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework. The facility, to be located at the Port of Tyne, will be fitted with solar panels to enable onsite renewable generation, electric vehicle (EV) charging points for staff and will be built using low-carbon materials that meet UKGBC energy efficiency classifications.

An internal carbon price has also been introduced. Consideration of the price is rated alongside the market costs of materials, which has enabled the design team to strengthen the financial case for selecting low-carbon materials.

Berwick Bank Project Director Alex Meredith added: “By combining the two project proposals into a super project we believe we can deliver Berwick Bank Wind Farm – one of the world’s largest offshore wind opportunities – more quickly.

“We’re proud of our track record of support and benefits that our projects bring to the Scottish and UK supply chains. With Berwick Bank our ambition is to utilise as many local, Scottish and UK-based suppliers where possible throughout all stages of development, construction, and operation.”

The announcement comes as SSE faces continued pressure to separate its renewables businesses from its electricity arm.

Activist investor Elliott Management has taken a stake in the firm and is encouraging it to split its energy arms in order to raise more finance for its renewables outputs. The fund has taken similar approaches with EDP-Energias de Portugal and play a role in Premier Inn selling Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola in 2019.

Matt Mace

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