Why the first offshore wind leasing round in 10 years is a big deal
Scotland’s much-anticipated offshore leasing round goes live today. It’s a big moment for Crown Estate Scotland as it embarks on its first major leasing process since the powers came to Scotland in 2017.
It’s also a big moment for our industry, as the eventual results of this round will see all the recent years of working with Government on maps and plans transform into a much clearer picture of where our offshore wind sector is going to develop over the next decade, and who is going to build it.
It’s an exciting time for Scotland and our contribution to a net-zero future. With renewables already powering 90% of our domestic electricity consumption, our massive offshore potential will serve as the driving force as we urgently decarbonise heat and transport right across the UK.
Our deeper waters give us a golden opportunity to lead the world in floating wind, and interest was already high: Floating Wind 2020, the UK’s dedicated floating offshore wind event, organised by RenewableUK & Scottish Renewables, will be held later this year. Delegate numbers at this annual event have doubled year-on-year since its launch, and this year's event will now go ahead virtually on October 7-8.
The UK is undoubtedly the world’s leading offshore wind market, and ScotWind has already attracted huge interest from all the major global wind developers, putting Scotland on the map as a highly-attractive place to invest billions of pounds in clean infrastructure.
Our first major completed offshore project, Beatrice, has shown us the scale of the potential benefits to Scotland, with 7200 ‘job years’ and £460m GVA to the Scottish economy in development and construction alone, not to mention the 450,000 homes now powered by clean electricity. The total impact of Beatrice is expected to be £1billion.
The challenge now is secure even more of the supply chain benefits from the next decade of development, and this is something that our whole industry is engaged with. Many hundreds of Scottish companies have attended recent ‘meet the buyer’ events with offshore projects such as Neart na Gaoithe, which are soon to enter construction.
With leases awarded next year through ScotWind, and a bigger pipeline of projects taking shape, supply chain companies should have further confidence to plan and invest for the long-term – supported by ambitious climate change and renewable energy targets, the Sector Deal and the many forms of assistance from the Scottish and UK Governments.
It’s worth taking a step back.
On this same day when the attention is on Scotland’s clean offshore future, Britain overall will break a new record for coal-free energy generation, going two months without the black stuff.
There is no going back, and this is a trend mirrored across the world. This is coupled, of course, with the impacts of our current health crisis and the loud desire that has been expressed that we use this moment to reset and build a better way forward.
This week, on World Oceans Day, the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition published the staggering figure of 1,400GW of offshore wind, which it believes could be deployed worldwide by 2050.
Last month Germany increased its 2030 offshore target to 20GW, and France is upping its ambition, particularly on floating wind, where it will run three leasing tenders across 2021/22.
From South Korea to the USA, opportunities are opening up in major markets across the globe. ScotWind offers the many players in our industry the chance to gain valuable project experience in our waters and put this country at the heart of the offshore energy revolution. We wish the best of luck to all of our members who will be working hard over the coming months to finalise bids.
- For more information on the Floating Offshore Wind 2020 event, to be held on October 7-8, see Scottish Renewables' website.
- Blog by Ben Miller, Senior Policy Manager