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BLOG: Offshore Wind Week blows into the Scottish Parliament

Posted on 21/11/2018 by Nick Sharpe

Offshore Wind Week 2018 blew into the Scottish Parliament this week with a members’ debate secured by Scottish Renewables.

Substantial progress has been made in the sector, with Robin Rigg, Hywind and Aberdeen Bay now generating, Beatrice and Kincardine building out and and up to three more Scottish projects looking to bid into the next CfD auctions.

The session – organised by Lewis Macdonald MSP - took place on Tuesday and was well attended, including by Richard Leonard MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, and members from each of the parties represented in the Scottish Parliament.

The debate’s positivity was remarkable in a venue often defined by division, with Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity, and the Islands, remarking that as MSPs cannot “always stand in the chamber and say that we are all united in support of a particular issue or technology”.

It was welcome, he said, that he was able to do so with members of all parties on this topic.

The debate was opened by Lewis Macdonald, who said that:

“Offshore Wind Week offers an opportunity to recognise what has been achieved so far, to celebrate the vision of the pioneers and to set out ambitious targets for the future.”

He recalled that he was involved in the Robin Rigg development’s consenting process as Planning Minister in 2003. Like many contributors, Lewis acknowledged the great work of the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, singling out lain Todd, David Roger, Jeremy Cresswell, John Black and Morag McCorkindale for their work in this field.

The Minister later added to this praise, calling Morag a “force of nature”.

Lewis charted the successes of Scottish offshore wind and noted the announcement from Claire Perry MP that there would soon be a sector deal announcement for the sector, before ending on the optimistic note that Scotland has only “scratch[ed] the surface” of its offshore wind potential and that: 

“We should be ambitious for growth in offshore wind; for more and properly paid jobs for offshore workers and seafarers; for supply chain opportunities for Scottish ports and industries; for cheaper power for our consumers; and for environmental benefits for future generations. If we are ambitious, we can, as we know from our energy past, succeed and secure a sustainable energy future.”

The SNP’s David Torrance MSP discussed his constituency’s strong connection to the offshore wind sector, including the Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine and BiFab, before noting that:

“Sustained support for our renewables sector is absolutely essential to the health of the Scottish economy.

“Offshore wind energy continues to be a cost-effective investment that supports our coastal communities.

“Such a commitment will create a range of new opportunities for future energy developments and, as our power-generation capacity grows, we should be able not only to meet Scotland’s electricity needs but to support technology that will allow us to decarbonise other areas of society.” 

In his role as Scottish Conservative spokesperson for energy Alexander Burnett MSP explained the cross-party support for the industry in the chamber, saying: 

“[It is] no surprise that the motion has been supported by every party across the chamber, considering the excellent contribution that the offshore wind industry has been making to Scotland.”

Alexander then discussed the current and potential economic benefits to Scotland and the UK from offshore wind, which he said has:

“Created over 2,000 jobs and brought £1.8 billion gross value to the United Kingdom, with that figure expected to rise to £2.9 billion by 2030.

“The potential for supply chains to the offshore industry is huge.

“Floating offshore wind farms such as Hywind can generate renewable energy in previously difficult locations.

“A recent report by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult noted that, with the right support, up to 17,000 jobs and an additional £33.6 billion could be added to the British economy.

“That would be a fantastic boost to the Scottish economy and would only solidify Scotland’s position as a global leader on offshore wind.”

Scottish Labour’s Claudia Beamish MSP characterised the offshore wind sector’s progress as “remarkable” and a “true Scottish success story”, before continuing to say that: 

 “Vitally, the industry is a boon for Scotland’s coastal communities, which are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and coastal erosion and whose economies have been asked to transition first.”

Claudia then explored the potential contribution of the offshore wind sector to a Just Transition in Scotland’s economy and net-zero carbon future.

Mark Ruskell MSP’s contribution on behalf of the Scottish Green Party described offshore wind’s rate of commercial progress in the past few years has as “simply breathtaking”, before saying that:

“We still have a quarter of Europe’s wind resource, but the cost per megawatt of harvesting it has dramatically fallen from around £150 in 2014 to just over £57 last year, smashing Westminster’s target of £85 eight years early.”

Mark then described the sector as displaying “blistering progress” and concluded by saying:

“The future has arrived. Offshore wind has arrived. Let us harness with wisdom and care its tremendous power to transform.”

On behalf of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Liam McArthur MSP called on the industry to continue to innovate and grow. He noted that offshore wind fits into Scotland’s natural strengths and said that: 

“The sector is a success story in terms of meeting our ambitions with regard to the environment and reducing emissions; in terms of our economy and creating jobs and wealth; and in terms of our efforts to combat the scourge of fuel poverty.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP’s speech focused on the “terrific contribution to the climate change agenda” that offshore wind has made. He said that he can see the Beatrice development from near his home, and notes that “right at the top of Government it is recognised how important offshore wind is”.

Maurice Goldman MSP described the environmental and economic case for offshore wind, saying:

“Now it is time to back the companies, the investors and the workers who will deliver the projects of tomorrow and the economic and environmental benefits that will follow.

A key component of that will be ensuring that we have adequate provision of the shallow water and deep water sites that will be needed. As we look to 2030 and beyond, we must keep our sights on the prize of establishing Scotland as a leader in offshore development not just in the UK, but in Europe and across the world.”

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP summed up the debate by discussing the Scottish Government’s support for offshore wind.

He noted Scotland’s “important role” in the UK’s offshore wind success and called on specialised support from the UK Government for floating offshore wind. 

Paul closed the debate by saying:

“The future energy transition will bring many opportunities. I hope that we all agree that Scotland should remain at the forefront of renewable energy, including offshore wind.”

Nick Sharpe

Director of Communications