RENEWABLE energy giant Ørsted has announced plans to develop big floating windfarm off Scotland in a move that underlines the appeal of the country to international investors.
By Mark Williamson
The Danish company said it plans to bid for offshore acreage in the ScotWind licensing round, which has generated huge interest already.
A range of energy sector heavyweights, including BP and Scottish Hydroelectric owner SSE, have said they plan to participate in the landmark round.
Launched by Crown Estate Scotland in June last year, ScotWind is the first offshore wind leasing round to cover acreage off the country for a decade.
When the round was launched, Crown Estate Scotland held out the prospect it could pave the way to around 10 new commercial windfarms being developed off Scotland and help to unlock £8 billion investment.
Ørsted’s decision to enter the fray will increase confidence that the round will be a big success in financial terms and help Scotland to realise the full potential of offshore renewable energy.
The head of the company’s UK business, Duncan Clark, said: “The ScotWind leasing round is a crucial step in the Scottish Government’s plan to deliver up to 11 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and will be pivotal to a truly green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Windfarm developments off Scotland have yet to provide the boost expected to the supply chain and the labour market in the country. All bar one of those completed to date features turbines fixed to the seabed.
However, experts have suggested that Scotland could become a world leader in the emerging floating windfarm market. Norwegian giant Equinor developed what it billed as the world’s first floating windfarm off Scotland, in the form of the Hywind development east of Peterhead.
Ørsted said it is set to apply for seabed leases in sites which lend themselves to the deployment of large-scale floating wind technology in the ScotWind round.
Ørsted said it had made a strategic decision to pursue floating wind opportunities and wanted to drive the commercialization of the technology.
The compay is bidding with Falck Renewables and BlueFloat Energy. It said these have unique hands-on experience in floating wind projects and a strong local presence in Scotland.
Falck has developed a number of onshore windfarms in Scotland.
Richard Dibley, Managing Director of Falck Renewables UK said the company had more than 15 years of experience working in Scotland to develop projects which share their economic benefit as widely as possible with local people. He added: “We are excited about the opportunities this partnership will offer Scottish communities and the supply chain.”
BlueFloat Energy has worked on offshore windfarm developments around the world.
The partnership approach could help firms to persuade Crown Estate Scotland that their plans will deliver wider benefits. The organisation has required applicants to submit a supply chain development statement “outlining how they plan to engage with and utilise supply chain to successfully develop their projects”.
SSE is working with Japanese industrial giant Marubeni and the Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners investment firm.
BP said in May that that it was planning to participate in ScotWind with Germany’s Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg (EnBW).
BP made a successful bid with EnBW for leases covering an area between the Isle of Man and Liverpool in the latest UK round. The partners agreed to pay the Crown Estate around £1.8bn in fees over the first four years in total, with the prospect of them investing much more if they decided to develop any windfarms. Crown Estate Scotland extended the ScotWind round following the strong response to the UK round.
Orsted has interests in 12 windfarms off England and in five onshore windfarm projects in Scotland.
The company developed out of the Dong Energy oil and gas business.
Grangemouth refinery owner Ineos bought Dong Energy’s North Sea business in a £1bn deal in 2017.
Originally published at The herald scotland