The Highlands and Islands could be about to take the greatest share of new offshore wind developments proposed for Scotland’s waters.
Meanwhile, the world’s first deepwater offshore wind project is operating some 15 miles off Caithness, in 45 metres of North Sea.
Seabed owners The Crown Estate have granted agreements for lease to 5 companies and consortia for the development of offshore wind farms across 5 sites within Scottish territorial waters, with potential to generate up to 4.8 gigawatts (GW) of power.
The three sites in the seas off the Highlands and Islands will have a huge combined capacity of 3.4GW, 73% of the total developments and equivalent to at least three or four conventional power stations.
Exclusivity agreements have allowed developers to begin initial survey and consultation processes for their sites whilst the Scottish Government conducted a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for offshore wind in Scottish waters.
Completion of the SEA and issue of the post-adoption statement in March 2011, meant that the Crown Estate could award agreements for lease for those sites determined as suitable for development under the process. Full construction works leases can be granted once the developer has obtained statutory consents and permissions from Marine Scotland.
The proposed projects in Scottish territorial waters are:
The Argyll Array - ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) - up to 1800MW
Islay - Scottish and Southern Energy Renewables (SSER) - up to 680MW
Beatrice - SSE and Repsol (formerly SeaEnergy Renewables) - up to 1000MW
Inch Cape - EDPR and Repsol - up to 905MW
Neart na Gaoithe - Mainstream Renewable Power - up to 450MW
In January 2010, the Crown Estate announced the award of Zone Development Agreements around the UK to developers. Zone 1 – the Moray Firth – is off the eastern coast of the Highlands and Islands.
The joint Zone One developers will be Moray Offshore Renewables Limited (MORL), formed by Portuguese firm EDP Renováveis (67%) and Scottish firm SeaEnergy Renewables, now Repsol after being taken over in 2011, (33%) to develop the opportunity. In water depths ranging from 30m to 57m, the wind farm is likely to comprise around 250 turbines capable of generating at least 1.8GW. Assuming a smooth planning permission application and approval process, it is expected that the first turbines will be installed in 2015 / 16.
A second Scottish development zone, in the Firth of Forth, will contain around 600 turbines with a total 3.5GW capacity. The combined Scottish sites’ capacity would power more than 2 million houses, around 87% of Scotland’s households.
The Crown Estate expects that about £100 billion of investment will be made by 2020 in developing the Round 3 offshore wind projects across the UK. The estimated split is 60-70% to be spent for wind turbines, 10-20% for power transmission systems and a further 10-20% for other supply chain items.
The Round 3 leases are aimed at installing up to 32GW of offshore wind farms in addition to the 8GW from Rounds 1 and 2 which are under way. The map below shows the location of all current and proposed offshore wind activity in the waters around Scotland.
The world’s first deepwater offshore wind project is operating close by the Round 3 Moray Firth Zone, some 15 miles off Caithness, in 45 metres of water.
The £29 million private/public Talisman Beatrice Windfarm demonstrator project has seen the design, construction, installation and operation of two, 5 megawatt turbines, the world’s tallest at 234.5 metres from seabed to blade tip. Linked by subsea cable to the nearby Beatrice Alpha platform, they are generating 30% of the Beatrice Alpha oil platform’s 14MW daily electricity requirement.
Isleburn, a locally-based full-service engineering company and part of the Global Energy Group assembled the turbines at Nigg, an industrial facility formerly famous for producing platforms for the oil and gas industry, whilst the jacket foundations were provided by BiFab, and the towers were rolled at the Arnish Yard on the Isle of Lewis.