Scotland is now a future world leader in floating offshore wind technology – Alan Cook


Alan Cook, Partner and Renewable Energy Specialist at Pinsent Masons

UK Energy Minister Greg Hands announced on Tuesday that the Government will match £30m of industry funding to make £61m available for the development of innovative floating offshore wind (FOW) technologies.

The increased cash will accelerate research and development at FOW with 11 successful projects, each receiving up to £10m each, with more to follow. These technologies will be used to enable the turbines to be sited in deep water areas in the windiest parts of the UK coastline.

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Offshore wind development featured prominently in Crown Estate Scotland’s announcement last week, which revealed the winners of ScotWind, the first offshore wind lease round in Scottish waters for over a decade.

Offshore wind energy has a bright future as the world moves towards net zero carbon emissions (Image: Soeren Bidstrup/AFP via Getty Images)

Crown Estate Scotland (CES) selected 17 projects from a total of 74 applications and offered option agreements reserving the rights to develop specific areas of the seabed. The developments will generate £700m in option fees to be passed on to the Scottish Government and local authorities.

Both announcements will go some way to maximizing the effectiveness and timeliness of FOW technology to ensure the best possible performance, both in terms of megawatts deployed and jobs created in the sector.

A key requirement to achieve those two goals is to invest in innovation and in the supply chain. The Energy Minister’s commitment is a significant step in that direction, a strong statement of intent from the UK Government, and is a clear indicator of intensified focus and investment in FOW by public and private sector players. , throughout this decade and beyond.

Much publicity has been generated around whether the £700m put into public coffers was less than could have been achieved. However, CES halted the ScotWind process when significantly higher bids were received for English seabed rights than had been anticipated in Round 4. This subsequently raised the upper threshold per square kilometer from £10,000 to £ 100,000, which effectively allowed ScotWind option fees to increase. ten times to £700 million.

It should also be recognized that, unlike last year’s Round 4 bidding round in English waters, ScotWind’s process went beyond cash and took into account factors including experience and preparation of the parties. bidders.

CES has commented that the quality of the bids was high and that good judgment was required in evaluating the bids. And while not relevant to the decision-making process itself, each bidder had to make binding supply chain commitments that are expected to benefit the Scottish and UK economies at large.

The process has produced a broad cohort of successful deals that includes a mix of smaller niche players, larger international entities and traditional established offshore wind developers.

In short, ScotWind (and the latest financial commitment from the UK Government) is a very positive step forward for the renewable energy sector, creating significant investment opportunities and positioning Scotland as a future world leader in FOW technologies.

Alan Cook, Partner and Renewable Energy Specialist at Pinsent Masons


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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