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Huge expansion of offshore wind in Scotland is two-thirds floating projects

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Floating wind turbines are transported to Hywind in Scotland, the first commercial floating wind farm (Credit: Shutterstock)
Floating wind turbines are transported to Hywind in Scotland, the first commercial floating wind farm (Credit: Shutterstock)

A huge new expansion of offshore wind in Scotland will have as much capacity as current operational projects in Europe, according to trade organisation RenewableUK.

Crown Estate Scotland, which manages use of areas covering the seabed, announced the approval of 17 new projects covering just over 7,000km2 today (17 January), representing 25GW of new capacity – two-and-a-half-times the UK’s entire current offshore wind capacity.

Roughly two-thirds of the new capacity will be provided by wind farms using floating turbines, a huge step for the promising technology. Floating wind farms can be installed in areas where the water is too deep for fixed foundation turbines, enabling access to larger areas with potentially stronger winds.

“It’s highly significant that 60% of the new capacity announced today is for floating offshore wind projects,” said RenewableUK deputy chief executive Melanie Onn. “This will secure the UK’s lead in innovative floating wind, generating enormous amounts of power from the best wind resources in Europe, as well as creating opportunities for us to export our cutting-edge technology worldwide”.

Today’s announcement was the result of applications for ScotWind Leasing, the first Scottish offshore wind leasing round in over a decade, and the first since management of offshore wind rights were devolved to Scotland.  

The 17 successful projects were selected from 74 applications, and have now been offered option agreements which reserve the rights to specific areas of seabed in exchange for just under £700m in option fees, which will be passed to the Scottish government for public spending.    

The announcement is “one of the country’s biggest ever steps towards ‘net zero’,” Onn said. “To put this landmark into context, the 25GW of new capacity announced today is two-and-a-half-times the UK’s entire current offshore wind capacity. It’s also equal to the entire current operational offshore wind capacity for the whole of Europe. It will scale up our ability to slash emissions exponentially. In the long term, it will also help to reduce the UK’s vulnerability to international gas prices, which are hurting consumers.

“Overall, it’s a massive economic boost for the whole country at just the right time. These projects will attract billions of pounds from private investors, which will create thousands of skilled jobs and allow us to maximise supply chain opportunities all around the UK. It also underlines the need to speed up the planning process, so that we can connect these offshore wind farms faster across the UK to meet our targets for 2030 and beyond.” 

Simon Hodge, chief executive of Crown Estate Scotland, said: “The variety and scale of the projects that will progress onto the next stages shows both the remarkable progress of the offshore wind sector, and a clear sign that Scotland is set to be a major hub for the further development of this technology in the years to come.” 

Crown Estate project approval is just the first stage of the long process that projects must go through before turbines are installed. Responsibility for further stages does not sit with Crown Estate Scotland, and projects will only progress to a full seabed lease once all planning stages have been completed.  

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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