Bids flood in for offshore wind farms in Scottish waters

New floating wind farms could be built in Scottish coastal waters as the country moves to increase the amount of green energy produced offshore.

The Scottish Government has set a target to increase offshore wind capacity to 11 gigawatts by the end of the decade.

Dozens of energy firms from across the world have now submitted proposals to Crown Estate Scotland, which has set out a number of development opportunities as part of its ScotWind leasing round.

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Bids submitted include plans for both fixed and floating turbines.

Hywind Scotland, a 30MW pilot scheme located off the coast of Peterhead, is the world's first commercial-scale floating wind farm but new offshore opportunities could see many more foundationless turbines in Scottish waters. Picture: Øyvind Gravås/Woldcam

Floating offshore turbines are a relatively new and developing technology that make it possible to build in deeper water zones where fixed foundations aren’t feasible.

Scotland is home to the world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm – the 30 megawatt Hywind pilot project, located off the coast of Peterhead.

Now Norwegian oil and gas giant Equinor, which owns the pioneering scheme, has become the latest company to confirm it is competing to build further floating wind turbines off the Scottish coast.

“Equinor has the experience and capabilities necessary to develop the next full-scale floating offshore wind farm in Scotland following Hywind Scotland,” said Jens Økland, Equinor’s senior vice president for business development in renewables.

Equinor, which owns and operates the pioneering Hywind scheme, is bidding to build new floating wind turbines off the Scottish coast as part of the Scottish Government's plans to increase the amount of wind energy generated offshore. Picture: Michal Wachucik

“By leveraging our offshore execution capabilities and our leading position in floating offshore wind we are ready to create more long-term value and drive the industrialisation of floating offshore wind further.

“We see floating wind as an enabler for the Scottish Government to achieve its offshore wind targets and help reach its ambitious net zero target of 2045.”

The announcement comes just days after ScottishPower and Shell revealed they had lodged a joint bid to develop floating wind sites through ScotWind.

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ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson, said: “Scotland is the windiest country in Europe and has the biggest and most experienced offshore sector.

“Bringing ScottishPower and Shell’s collective knowledge, experience and expertise together means we’re perfectly placed to lead the way in developing large-scale offshore floating wind farms and creating a new green industry with massive potential for exporting our skills and experience globally and helping the UK decarbonise its energy generation.”

Applications for ScotWind, the first offshore leasing round in Scottish waters for a decade, closed on Friday.

The level of interest generated has been welcomed.

Ben Miller, senior policy manager for industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Offshore wind developers from across the world have recognised Scotland’s renewables potential, and have worked incredibly hard in challenging times to be able to submit their project bids today.

“This is a huge year for Scotland, with COP26 coming to Glasgow, and the outcome of this process will confirm our ambition to be a world leader in deploying new offshore wind technologies.

“We look forward to the leasing results, and for the further expansion of an industry which is already creating major economic and environmental benefits right across the country.”

Colin Palmer, director of Marine for Crown Estate Scotland, said: “We know that there is significant interest in Scotland’s ability to host major offshore wind projects, and our engagement with the sector throughout the development of ScotWind has been clear evidence of that.”

Further details are expected to be provided later this week.

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