February 26, 2009 | 3 Comments
The UK Crown Estate is offering exclusive agreements to 9 organizations to develop offshore wind farms at 10 sites within Scottish territorial waters. In total the sites have the potential to generate more than 6 gigawatts (GW).
The agreements allow developers to begin initial survey and consultation processes for their sites in the near term while the Scottish government conducts a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), but fees will not be payable until site leases are signed in 2010. The fees will then be used to address generic research and development issues faced by offshore wind developers in Scotland.
In addition, the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) has proposed the development of an offshore wind technology demonstration centre off the coast of Aberdeen, which the government is likely to support as part of a program to advance the industry in Scotland.
Launched in late January, the Scottish government has committed to completing the SEA process within a year, following which the Crown Estate can lease suitable sites. Leases enabling developers to begin construction will only be granted by The Crown Estate — which owns almost all of the seabed out to 12 nautical miles, and development rights out to 200 nautical miles — once statutory consents and permissions are obtained.
Utilities and developers pepper the line up, with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) offshore development arm Airtricity particularly active. The company has been granted permission to develop at four sites: Beatrice, Bell Rock, Islay and Kintyre, with a combined capacity of up to 2.7 GW. Two of the sites are being pursued in consortia with specialist developers.
In announcing the development, Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, said, "one of the key aims of our acquisition of Airtricity a year ago was to build up a major offshore wind farm capability in northern Europe."
Not to be outdone, local competitor ScottishPower Renewables is to investigate a site west of Argyll and the island of Tiree, which it believes could generate anywhere between 500-1800 megawatts (MW).
Commenting on the deal, Keith Anderson, director of ScottishPower Renewables said, “offshore wind power has massive potential, and the UK government has already outlined ambitions to generate up to 33,000 MW of power off the UK coastline." He added: "Scotland has the best onshore wind resources in Europe, and now it is taking its first steps towards harnessing its offshore potential.”
Jason Ormiston, chief executive of trade body Scottish Renewables, noted that, “The combined capacity of these projects will make a massive contribution to Scotland’s efforts in tackling climate change, helping to deliver reliable and affordable supplies of electricity to consumers and, very importantly, the Scottish economy. Now the industry, government, The Crown Estate, [regulatory authority] Ofgem and the wide range of interests that use the sea must work together to deliver this exciting potential.”
Table & Map 1. The 10 development sites and the nine companies/consortia awarded exclusivity.