Vattenfall delivers £300m investment for Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm

Plans to build Scotland's largest offshore wind farm near US presidential hopeful Donald Trump's Menie Estate golf resort in Aberdeenshire received a major boost this week after Swedish energy company Vattenfall pledged £300m towards the project.

The investment triggers an agreement for Vattenfall to obtain the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group’s 25% share for the 92.4MW, 11 turbine development off the coast of Aberdeen.

The £300m European Offshore Wind Development (EOWCD) will test and demonstrate cutting-edge offshore wind technology and will boost the industry’s drive to competitive clean power once operational in 2018. It is believed that once the wind farm is fully operational, it will produce enough clean energy to power 68,000 households each year.

Scotland Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse, said: “This is great news for the industry. Scotland is admired around the world for our work in renewable energy.

“This project will keep our nation at the forefront of innovation by allowing energy companies to identify new ways to reduce operating costs. We’re working hard to ensure offshore wind projects can help generate the low carbon electricity supply Scotland needs and the associated high quality engineering jobs Scotland wants.”

Donald trumped

Planning permission for the offshore wind farm was granted back in 2013. US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been battling the decision ever since, and ultimately had plans to stop the construction rejected by Britain’s Supreme Court judges back in December 2015.

The funding from Vattenfall highlights the firm’s commitment to UK wind energy during an uncertain period for renewables investment, with Britain’s imminent withdrawal from the European Union (EU) leading to companies such German energy firm Siemens announcing plans to withhold new wind power investment in the UK.

“Vattenfall’s green light for the EOWDC underlines our long-term ambition to grow our wind power capacity, including in the UK,” the company’s senior vice president Gunnar Groebler said.

“The UK Government believes that wind power should continue to provide an essential part of the UK’s low carbon electricity generation mix and so we remain committed to expanding our UK operations.  In particular, we are confident that the new UK and Scottish governments will continue to support growth in offshore wind as the industry lowers the cost of energy significantly.”

Post-Brexit choppy waters

Doubts about the UK’s ability to invest in renewables post-Brexit were eased recently when the Scottish Government announced a £7.9m collaboration with nine of Europe’s largest offshore wind developers – including Vattenfall – to reduce costs, and improve efficiency and availability of offshore wind farms.

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.

Nevertheless, concerns still remain 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, a deal which aims to reduce the costs and accelerate the deployment of wind power at sea through joint development and purchasing.

George Ogleby

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