2.2 MW of Offshore Wind Approved in Scotland
With the recent Scottish independent vote, many were concerned about the future of renewable energy sector. In what could almost be seen as a move to quash those concerns, the Scottish government approved 2.2 GW of offshore wind. The 2.2 GW are comprised of four wind farms: Mainstream’s 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe, Repsol and EDP's 1 GW Inch Cape, and the 525 MW Seagreen Alpha and 525 MW Seagreen Bravo wind farms developed by SSE Renewables and Fluor.
The approval affords the companies the chance to apply for Contract for Difference (CfD) in the first allocation round this fall.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, who approved the projects, also criticized the UK’s government for placing more focus on nuclear energy. He said the £235 million available through the first allocation of CfDs “sits in stark contrast to the unprecedented financial backing being offered to new nuclear plants, with a possible £35 billion subsidy for the new Hinkley Point C station alone in addition to a £10 billion loan guarantee.”
He said that this lower level of funding puts the Scottish offshore wind industry at a disadvantage, especially since the 2030 de-carbonization target remains uncertain. Ewing pointed out that that investing in wind was not only an environmentally sound decision, but a good financial one as well.
“These wind farms alone could generate a combined gross value added of between £314 million and £1.2 billlion in Scotland over their lifetime and generate between 2,567 and 13,612 jobs within Scotland during the construction period,” he said. “Granting consent for these developments will enable them to bid for an offshore wind CfD under the UK government’s electricity market reform process. The budget for offshore wind (and other less established technologies) in the first of these rounds scheduled for autumn is £235 million, thought to be enough to support around 800 MW of offshore wind in UK waters.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland also welcomed the decision, calling it a big step forward for renewable energy in Scotland.
“Just these four developments could supply two-thirds of Scotland’s electricity needs with clean, green energy on windy days,” the group’s director, Richard Dixon, said. “These schemes represent as much capacity as Scotland’s current nuclear reactors. Together with other renewables these wind farms will ensure we not only meet all of our own demand but we have a strong surplus of green electricity to export to England, Northern Ireland and beyond.”