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Renewed Positivity for Offshore Wind in Scotland

Renewed Positivity for Offshore Wind in Scotland

2017 has been a landmark year for Scotland’s offshore wind sector and the optimism at the Scottish Renewables Offshore Wind Conference in Glasgow this week was evident from the very start. With over 5GW of installed capacity, the UK has more offshore wind than any other country in the world – this is an incredible statistic and with the publication of the Clean Growth Strategy, in particular the renewed support for offshore wind deployment and innovation as well as the commitment to work with the industry on a Sector Deal, it is clear that the industry are seeking to build on this success as we chart a path towards 2030 and beyond.

We have set out in this short note some of the key messages from the conference.

Positivity

From the heady days of the Round 3 leasing rounds where the same offshore wind conference was held in a large conference centre in Aberdeen, the setting for this event was both excellent and appropriate – the University of Strathclyde Technology & Innovation Centre, situated next door to the offices of ORE Catapult. With near full capacity of 300 delegates at the event, there is definitely a renewed sense of optimism in the offshore wind industry. The delegate list has changed considerably over the years and with a strong focus on the construction sector and supply chain, this highlights the scale of opportunity available to all aspects of the sector.

The scene was set by Claire Mack (Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables), Benj Sykes (UK Country Manager, Head of Programme Asset Management for Orsted) and Paul Wheelhouse MSP – from the outset, the size and scale of challenge and opportunity that the sector presents was made clear. The path towards a Sector Deal and encouraging the Government to fully commit to the sector in the long term is exactly what is needed to ensure we make the most of the current position as a leader in offshore wind.

One anecdote from Benj highlighted what there is to play for when looking not only at Scotland and the UK, but making the most of the skills and technology to export worldwide – his reference to the export of our oil and gas experience over the years being the reason his good friends live on all four corners of the globe really hit home the scale of opportunity with offshore wind to really drive the sector forward and ensure Scotland and the UK’s position at the forefront. Missing this opportunity, as could easily happen without the right levels of commitment and support, would be a terrible loss. 

Scotland’s own offshore wind

Seeing projects constructed and operating is a huge leap forward for the sector and only serves to highlight what has been achieved to date. The technical and construction challenges of offshore wind development are not to be underestimated, but with the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm under construction and due to generate this year, Scotland’s offshore wind industry is gathering pace.  The conference also heard about the progress being made on the Kincardine Offshore Wind and Hywind floating wind projects, as well as Aberdeen Bay - it is definitely an exciting time for the sector in Scotland. These projects are paving the way for more developments and providing the confidence in the sector that is crucial to continued development.

Consenting framework

Adding to the promise of projects approaching generation, we have the end of the RSPB judicial review challenge and the Moray Offshore Wind Farm and Neart na Gaoithe projects gearing up for development, following their success in the CfD auction process. Significant progress was made in 2017 and when you consider that the RSPB challenge took over 3 years to resolve, the impact that this had on project development in that period is significant. Set against a backdrop of Government and policy changes, the CfD process and the general extensive construction programme for offshore wind projects, it is excellent news for the sector and the Scottish economy more generally that the projects are now proceeding.

Supply Chain and Export

This progress has led to a renewed focus on the construction and supply chain aspects of offshore wind sector, and ensuring that Scotland and the UK have the technical capabilities to deliver on projects. We should not forget that offshore wind projects represent the largest infrastructure projects in Scotland and will provide a huge boost for many aspects of the economy, if we can fully embrace the opportunities provided.


With reference to Benj’s statement again, there is a strong focus in ensuring that firstly we have the skills and expertise at home to make the most of the opportunity, but then look to take our skills and expertise across the globe to really drive home Scotland and the UK’s role in delivering offshore wind.

As we start 2018, the conference provided a timely opportunity to take stock of the events of 2017, the clearing of significant hurdle and set a path to go forward. As a firm, we are excited to currently be involved in offshore wind projects in Scotland and share the same positivity and excitement that was expressed at the conference.

Craig Whelton
Partner

Peter Ward
Director

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