The potential economic benefit of floating offshore wind projects in Scotland is to be examined by a Crown Estate Scotland-led study.
The work by Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult may help pave the way for the UK Government to make new policy decisions to support industry growth.
It follows the world’s first floating offshore windfarm, Hywind Scotland (shown here), located off the northeast of Scotland, starting to produce energy in October 2017.
The floating wind industry is currently at an early stage of development – but may have significant potential for Scottish companies. There are currently two further test and demonstration scale projects with planning consent from Marine Scotland and seabed rights from Crown Estate Scotland, the public body that manages seabed leasing and passes revenue profits to the Scottish Government.
Floating wind has significant global potential, enabling access to high wind resource in deep waters, compared to fixed wind which can often be too expensive to build in deeper waters where wind conditions are often better. In particular, Scottish waters are deeper closer to shore, providing the ideal opportunity for expanding the offshore wind industry and taking a global lead in innovating with new technologies. If Scotland can lead the way in development, companies involved at all stages will not only create more jobs – environmental specialists, engineers, maintenance workers – but may expand overseas too.
Crown Estate Scotland senior development manager Sian Wilson said “We want to find out the scale of the economic benefits – jobs, supply chain and exports – from growing the Scottish floating wind industry. The results of this study will help UK government and others take policy decisions on how to support development.
“As the low carbon economy grows and the world needs cleaner, green energy, there is potentially a great opportunity for Scotland and the wider UK in ensuring we make the most of our competitive advantage.”
Head of insights, Gavin Smart, who is leading the study for ORE Catapult said, “Innovations in turbine foundations and the development of floating wind technologies are key to opening up enormous new wind resources in expanses of water too deep for conventional, bottom-fixed farms. This, in turn, creates huge economic opportunities for Scottish companies to capitalise on this emerging market, both here in Scotland and through the export of skills and technologies globally.
“ORE Catapult has a strong track record in floating wind research, and is actively involved in a number of international collaborative projects designed to drive the technology forward, and so we are well placed to carry out this study on behalf of Crown Estate Scotland.”
The £50,000 (US$67,600) project will be overseen by a UK-wide group including Crown Estate Scotland, The Crown Estate (the body that manages seabed leasing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), RenewableUK, Scottish Renewables and the Offshore Wind Industry Council. Engagement of regulatory bodies, industry and developers will be sought throughout the project in direct discussions as well as in an industry workshop.
The study will look in detail at different scenarios based on different scales of development and potential UK content, how government policy may impact it and the different economic outcomes of the scenarios. It is expected to be finalised and published in mid-2018.