Hydropower, Offshore, Project Development, Utility Scale, Wind Power

Scottish Offshore Wind Demonstration Project Triumphs Over Trump

Development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) is now firmly underway after a series of announcements confirmed a final investment decision from Vattenfall and several supply contracts for the project. 

A test bed for the development of novel offshore wind energy technologies, EOWDC (a.k.a., the Aberdeen offshore wind farm) is to be built off the north east coast of Scotland and will generate 92.4 MW when it comes into operation. The news has been well received in light of difficulties its developers had incurred owing to objections raised to the development by Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump. 

Going forward, Vattenfall will hold sole ownership of EOWDC having acquired Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group’s 25 percent for an undisclosed sum — a decision announced last week. The Swedish power company also announced reaching a final investment decision on the project that will see £300 million (US $395 million) directed into the development.

On Friday, Boskalis announced it had been awarded the project’s offshore balance of plant contract, valued in excess of €100 million (US $131 million). The deal will see Boskalis take charge of design, manufacture and installation of eleven suction bucket jacket foundations and offshore cabling.

These developments come only shortly after Vattenfall announced other key suppliers to the wind farm, including MHI Vestas, which has been contracted to outfit EOWDC with eleven 8.0 MW turbines.

The wind farm’s inception has been especially welcomed by renewable energy industry stakeholders in Scotland — a country accelerating its position as an innovation hub for both wind and marine energy. 

However, the project’s realization has not been a smooth road. Having received approval from the Scottish government in 2013, the project immediately became marred by controversy and opposition led by Donald Trump. 

With the project sited at a visible 3.5 kilometers offshore from Trump’s luxury resort, Trump International Golf Links, aesthetics were at the root of the billionaire’s discontent. After a string of failed attempts to derail the plans through the Scottish courts, Trump ultimately filed an appeal against the development with the UK’s Supreme Court. However, in a unanimous decision taken in December 2015 — one that cannot be appealed — that appeal too was rejected.

George A. Sorial, executive vice president of Trump Organization stated in reference to the Supreme Court’s decision: “History will judge those involved unfavorably and the outcome demonstrates the foolish, small-minded and parochial mentality which dominates the current Scottish government’s dangerous experiment with wind energy.”

Seemingly undeterred by the ruling, Trump’s organization has stated it will “continue to fight this proposal on every possible front,” — a remark that has led legal experts to comment that the only remaining avenue for Trump to pursue would involve the European Courts of Human Rights. 

Referring to Vattenfall’s ambition to double its wind capacity from 2 GW to 4 GW by 2020, alongside “reducing and streamlining” offshore costs, Magnus Hall, CEO and President of Vattenfall, stated: “Our investment in [EOWDC] is an important part of this process. By building a wind farm that is also an innovative plant for testing and demonstrating new and advanced wind technology, we are developing our expertise and contributing to establishing north-east Scotland as an international innovation center for offshore wind technology.” 

All told, though delayed by some two years, the project looks secure to proceed. Geotechnical surveys of the site have already begun, and it is expected that construction of the wind farm will commence in late 2017, with first generation slated for spring the following year. 

Lead image credit: TEIA | Flickr