SSE Renewables is set to file a scoping report in the next few days for the 4.1 gigawatt Berwick Bank “super project”, which will see up to 307 of the world’s tallest and most powerful turbines – standing up to 355m from sea level to blade tip – built in the Firth of Forth.
Located around 40 kilometres off the Fife and East Lothian coastlines, the scheme will be capable of generating enough green energy to power more than five million homes – double the number of households in Scotland.
It will save around eight million tonnes of climate-warming carbon dioxide every year, equivalent to Scotland’s total annual car emissions.
The giant array – an amalgamation of earlier Berwick Bank and Marr Bank proposals covering 1,313 square kilometres – is already at an advanced stage of development after 10 years of research and analysis.
Project leaders anticipate a full planning application will be lodged with the Scottish Government next spring and if consented the wind farm could be operational by 2026.
A grid connection has already been secured at Branxton, near Torness, in East Lothian.
Alex Meredith, SSE’s project director for Berwick Bank, says the project would play a key part in achieving national emissions reduction targets and demonstrate the country’s leadership in renewables at the forthcoming United Nations climate summit in Glasgow.
“COP26 is a great opportunity for Scotland to show the international community what great progress is being made in the battle against climate change,” he said.
“This is the sort of action that will meet the words at COP26.
“The Scottish Government has a target to reach 11 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030.
“Berwick Bank can play a massive part in reaching this ambition.
“We need to see this project built.”
Berwick Bank is also expected to generate thousands of new green jobs during construction but Meredith believes it will also have an important lasting effect on the industry as a whole in Scotland by helping create a base of manufacturing and engineering expertise for future projects.
“Scotland has talked about leadership in the field, but this really would be world-leading,” he said.
“We’ve got all the Scotwind projects that are due to come forward but this project could ensure the supply chain is in place.
“It’s a big-scale opportunity to create a strong offshore renewables pipeline.
“That’s something we want to see.”
He says extensive surveys and impact assessments have been carried out over the past few years, resulting in planning and design adjustments to minimise potential impacts on marine wildlife such as seabirds, dolphins and whales.
Michael Matheson, Scotland’s energy and net zero secretary, has welcomed the plans.
He said: “Decarbonising our energy demands is a vital component of our just transition to net-zero and our world-leading renewables sector will play a vital role in this.
“The continuing growth of offshore wind over the next decade will be crucial to meeting our incredibly stretching, near-term climate targets, and we will need to work innovatively, at pace and with agility to do so.”