The Scottish Government has set a target for offshore wind capacity of 11 GW installed by 2030, a significant increase compared with an earlier target of 8 GW
In a statement, the Scottish Government said, “Our consultation had suggested adopting the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council’s (SOWEC’s) vision of 8 GW by 2030 as a reasonable starting point.
“Now, having listened carefully to our stakeholders, we have revisited what might be possible within the coming decade.
“The Scottish Government continues to believe that any ambition for offshore wind deployment in Scotland – rather than a target – should be realistic and based as far as possible on expectations driven by evidence.
“The aim of substantially increasing the offshore wind capacity in Scottish waters supports the delivery of Scotland’s 2017 Energy Strategy and the decarbonisation of heat and transport and has been agreed following an extensive consultation with industry, stakeholders, coastal communities and environmental organisations.”
Currently, Scotland has 5.6 GW of consented offshore capacity, of which 1 GW is operational. The government said it will build on the launch of the initial ScotWind leasing round in June 2020, which offers the first round of seabed leasing for offshore windfarms in Scottish waters for a decade.
As well as outlining the economic opportunities offshore wind presents, the Scottish Government has also adopted a plan identifying suitable areas for commercial-scale offshore wind projects. This will inform the first seabed leasing process led by the newly devolved Crown Estate Scotland.
Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said, “This is a pivotal moment for the development of our offshore wind sector.
“Our seas are host to some of the best offshore wind resources in the world and our ambition to capitalise on our offshore wind generation capacity is part of the bold action we are taking to support economic recovery and become a net-zero society.
“The Scottish Government is determined to drive a green economic recovery with investment in renewable energy at the heart of it.
“We want to harness Scotland’s enviable wind resource for our energy system and unlock significant investment in the supply chain to create more green jobs across the sector.
“We expect that the inclusion of Supply Chain Development Statements as part of ScotWind Leasing Rounds, as well as anticipated reforms to the UK Government’s all-important contracts for difference (CfD) process for awarding electricity supply contracts, will better support collaboration and innovation across the domestic supply chain.
“To ensure that developers have a clear framework to deliver the next round of offshore wind projects, we have also published a Sectoral Marine Plan identifying areas that are appropriate for commercial-scale developments and providing a strategic springboard for achieving our aspirations for future development.
“The plan is based on extensive consultation and seeks to balance the vital importance of our marine environment and other key sectors with the huge ambition and opportunity we have for the offshore wind sector.”
The Scottish Government said it is calling for the UK Government “to get its CfD auction and other interventions right” and ensure that allocations of contracts are not done purely on price.
“UK Government must also consider value added to the economy and the need to respond to the climate emergency,” said Mr Wheelhouse. “Although our offshore wind sector has benefited hugely from the CfD mechanism in terms of cost reduction, significant investment in infrastructure will be necessary to deliver the technology at scale and boost the domestic supply chain. There must be an avoidance of any arbitrary capacity caps that do not take heed of the urgency of the climate emergency.
“That is why the required electricity connections and networks must be structured and regulated in a way that will enable, rather than hinder, these developments. We will continue to make the case to the UK Government and the regulator for necessary changes to be made. We will work constructively with all parties to make sure that future changes can be delivered in a considered and effective manner.
“That is why we will continue to prioritise and maximise benefits for Scotland’s supply chain and economy from offshore wind. We will be demanding this of developers in Scottish waters. The need to maximise Scotland’s economic gain from the transition to net zero has become increasingly vital in the context of a green recovery where quality, green jobs are central.”
Responding, Scottish Renewables senior policy manager Ben Miller said, “The Scottish Government’s statement that 11 GW of offshore wind is possible by 2030 means there is much work to do, but this is a milestone moment for the decade ahead.
“We are disappointed that some areas in the draft Sectoral Marine Plan have not been taken forward at this stage. If we are to deliver on those stretching climate targets it’s imperative that we use every tool in our armoury and continue to work together to find creative solutions to the further deployment of the cheap, popular renewable energy technologies which are already delivering environmental and economic benefits across Scotland.”
SOWEC co-chair Brian McFarlane said, “Industry and government must now work collaboratively together, alongside other users of the sea, to create a competitive, commercially attractive offshore wind sector in Scotland which can deliver both domestically and in the global offshore wind market.”
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