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BLOG: Two consultations to shape offshore wind in Scotland

Posted on 03/07/2018 by Nick Sharpe

The decision to scrap Swansea’s tidal lagoon has once again focussed attention on the green energy potential of our seas.

Responding last week, Scottish Renewables’ Hannah Smith said:

“While this project will not go ahead, it’s crucial to remember that the UK maintains a world lead in developing wave and tidal energy.

"These sectors in Scotland are at the forefront of marine energy innovation, with a number of significant achievements over the past 12 months, helping drive the cost reductions which will assist them to fully commercialise.

She’s right: Scotland is doing amazing things in wave and tidal power.

And with Aberdeen Bay, Hywind and Beatrice, we’re finally starting to realise the potential contained in the winds above the sea’s surface, too.

Two ongoing consultations – from Marine Scotland and Crown Estate Scotland – bring offshore wind in Scotland sharply into focus.

The link between them is explained by Shepherd + Wedderburn’s Scott McCallum in this blog:

“Whilst sectoral marine planning and Crown Estate Scotland offshore wind leasing are distinct processes, they are intrinsically linked, as options for leases will only be awarded by Crown Estate Scotland for areas which are identified in [Marine Scotland’s] final Sectoral Marine Plan.”

Scottish Renewables needs members’ input to shape our response to both consultations.

But what do they mean for offshore wind in Scotland?

 

Marine Scotland

On June 13 Marine Scotland launched the first step in its search for new sites for offshore wind development in Scottish waters.

The Scoping ‘Areas of Search’ Study proposes 24 areas within which future leasing could take place.

Most strikingly, only a couple of the 24 search areas are in less than 60 metre water depths.

With fixed-bottom wind deemed viable to 60 metres, most new sites could only be developed with floating foundations.

The inevitable conclusion?

Future, scalable offshore wind activity in Scotland beyond the current pipeline of projects being developed (1GW in operation or in construction, with a further 6.5GW in development) will depend primarily on the successful commercialisation of floating offshore wind technology.

This raises some important questions for industry.

Will that pipeline of potential fixed-bottom projects be enough to maintain the supply chain momentum that is finally building as construction of Scotland’s first large-scale offshore wind farms gets underway?

Is the next leasing round the right time to be transitioning away to such an extent from fixed, conventional projects to an as-yet pre-commercial technology?  

A couple of interesting further questions from the consultation:

  • It is expected that 349 oil and gas fields in the North Sea during 2017-25 will be decommissioned. Should Marine Scotland factor these sites into its analysis? Would this have much impact?
  • Existing offshore leases are not included in the areas of search. Should a consented project not be built, and the planning consent expire, would this site then be excluded from development (as it would fall outwith the sectoral plan)?

We’re asking for your feedback on Marine Scotland’s plans (before July 4).

 

Crown Estate Scotland

Crown Estate Scotland last month announced details of its intention to run a further leasing round for commercial-scale offshore wind energy projects in Scottish waters, in the areas to be identified in Marine Scotland’s final sectoral plan for offshore wind.

A discussion document outlines its proposals.

Scottish Renewables’ Fabrice Leveque said:

"Crown Estate Scotland’s proposals set the tone for the future of this vibrant sector.

“New sites would allow us to capture more of our offshore wind resource and enable Scotland’s burgeoning offshore wind supply chain to gear up and grow, delivering jobs and investment not just on our coasts, but across the country."

We are seeking member input for our response by July 15.

 

Scottish Renewables’ Offshore Wind Network has already met to discuss both organisations’ proposals.

This meeting, on May 9, included presentations from both Crown Estate Scotland and Marine Scotland.

They’re available alongside a note of the meeting on our website:

 

Nick Sharpe

Director of Communications