£2.2m to help develop Scots wind farms

The funding will help a project to reduce the time and cost of building offshore wind farms. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The funding will help a project to reduce the time and cost of building offshore wind farms. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A PROJECT to reduce the cost and time it takes to establish offshore wind farms is to benefit from £2.2 million of Government funding.

Nine developers with around 70 per cent of the UK’s offshore energy capacity will work to share knowledge and best practice in areas such as building foundations, maintenance of turbines, electrical systems and cable installation.

The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme will receive £200,000 in the 2014/15 financial year and £2,000,000 in 2015/16.

The announcement was made by First Minister Alex Salmond and will also see developers work on “the commercialisation of floating offshore wind turbines for Scottish waters”.

The aim is to reduce the time it takes to finish developments by around 10 per cent and ultimately bring about reduced financial costs.

Developments with the “most significant savings potential” will be prioritised by the OWA project.

Mr Salmond said: “Scotland is admired around the world for our work in renewable energy and in 2013 we set a new record for renewables generation, emphasising our commitment.

“That progress has accelerated into 2014 with new record levels of renewables generation in the first months of this year - up 56 per cent over the year to the first quarter of 2014.

“The Scottish Government’s target is to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s gross annual electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020, as part of a wider, balanced, energy mix, and we are already nearly half way there.

“Renewable energy is extremely valuable to Scotland’s economy, to reducing our carbon emissions and in providing low carbon energy supplies as well as jobs and long term investment.”

The developers working in the project include E.ON, RWE, ScottishPower Renewables, SSE Renewables and Vattenfall.

Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Scottish Government to drive further cost reductions in the offshore wind industry.

“The sector has huge potential to generate low carbon power and create economic value. Key to that success will be driving costs down through innovation and doing this quickly. The OWA and this new injection of funding will be key to help meet this cost reduction challenge.”

WWF Scotland’s climate and energy policy officer Gina Hanrahan welcomed the funding.

“Scotland’s windy seas make it one of the best locations in Europe for offshore wind, with the potential to create thousands of jobs, slash carbon emissions, and help keep the nation’s lights on,” she said.

“Studies estimate that Scotland’s offshore wind industry could create 28,000 jobs by 2020 and contribute over £7 billion of investment to the economy. By driving innovation and promoting collaboration, initiatives like the Accelerator Programme will help to ensure that we make the most of the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind.”