The Scottish Government is facing a windfall of almost £700m after the country’s largest auction of seabed land received bids from big oil and renewable energy companies hoping to build next-generation wind farms.
Among other things, Crown Estate Scotland has awarded oil companies BP and Shell, along with renewable energy veterans Scottish Power and SSE, to lease the Scottish seabed where they plan to build wind farms to power the equivalent of 23 million UK homes a year.
The auction, which was larger than expected and has awarded seabed permits to 17 wind farm projects from more than 70 bidders, is set to boost Scotland’s “largest industrial investment scheme” by laying the groundwork for companies to develop 25GW of offshore wind capacity.
The capacity of the new Scottish wind farms to be developed over the next 10 years will be more than double the UK’s existing 10GW of offshore wind power and equal to Europe’s current combined capacity. The UK plans to quadruple its fleet of offshore wind farms to reach 40GW by the end of the decade.
Simon Hodge, the chief executive of Crown Estate Scotland, said the results were “a fantastic vote of confidence” in Scotland’s role in the offshore wind ambitions, which will add nearly £700m “directly to public finances and billions of pounds in commitments.” the supply chain”.
Crown Estate Scotland manages the Queen’s property, but unlike the Crown Estate – which administers property in the rest of the UK – it does not return his winnings to the Treasury or the Queen. Instead, proceeds go to the Scottish Consolidated Fund, which in turn finances the Scottish Government.
The winning bidders have also pledged to invest around £1bn in sourcing materials and services from Scottish supply chain companies for every 1GW of offshore wind capacity built, which could enable local companies to invest £25bn.
Scottish Power, owned by Spanish energy conglomerate Iberdrola, emerged as the biggest single winner at the auction after acquiring seabed rights to develop up to 7GW of offshore wind power with its partners – enough to generate 8.5 million UK to supply households with electricity.
The Company plans to develop two major floating projects in partnership with sleeve, a 3GW wind farm off the north east coast of Scotland and another 2GW project off the east coast, as well as a dedicated 2GW offshore wind farm off the coast of Islay.
Keith Anderson, Managing Director of Scottish power, said the recent auction would spur new investment in the energy industry and its supply chain “particularly in areas like the Northeast,” which could open up “immense opportunities for companies and institutions across the country.”
“This is a colossal investment opportunity that could make this the largest industrial investment program in Scottish history,” he told the Guardian. He added that the shift towards floating offshore wind farms off the Scottish coast opens up “massive opportunities” for universities and technological innovators to play a leading role in the “world’s first industrialization of floating offshore wind farms”.
More than half of the successful bids came from developers hoping to build floating offshore wind farms that are farther from shore and can harness the power of faster offshore wind speeds.
SSE Renewables plans to partner with Japanese conglomerate Marubeni and Danish fund manager Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners to develop one of the world’s largest floating offshore wind farms off the east coast of Scotland.
Bernard Looney, chief executive of BP, which won with a bid for a traditional fixed-base offshore wind farm, said the company would develop its 2.9GW project 60km off the coast of Aberdeen in partnership with the German energy company EnBW.
Louise Kingham, BP’s UK boss, told the Guardian that her role in Britain’s offshore wind industry would help lay the groundwork for the Scottish energy industry “for the next 100 years”.
“There has been a lot of thought about how to develop the wind industry in Scotland and how to build one [wind power] supply chain alongside the shutdown of the oil and gas industry. There are some very transferrable skills here,” she said.
Melanie Onn, Deputy Managing Director of RenewableUK, said the auction would be “a massive economic boost at exactly the right time for the whole country”. “These projects will attract billions of pounds from private investors, which will create thousands of skilled jobs and allow us to maximize supply chain opportunities across the UK,” she added.