Major step forward for plans to build the world’s biggest floating offshore wind farm in Scotland

Plans to build the world’s biggest floating wind farm off the north coast of the Scottish mainland have come a step closer as approval for construction is sought from councillors.

If consented, the 100MW Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm will generate enough renewable electricity to power around 70,000 homes – equivalent to 64 per cent of households in the Highland Council area. The scheme, which will be located around 4.5 miles off the coast of Dounreay in Caithness, will comprise six to 10 powerful floating turbines standing up to 270m tall from sea level to blade tip.

When complete, the Pentland project will become the world’s largest floating wind farm. It will scoop the title from Norway’s new 94.6MW Hywind Tampen scheme, which had recently pipped Scotland’s 50MW Kincardine wind farm, off Aberdeen. Scotland has been a pioneer in floating wind power, being home to the world’s first ever – the 30MW Hywind array, off Aberdeenshire, which has been in operation since 2017.

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Developers have now submitted an onshore planning application for the Pentland wind farm, following a public consultation. If consented, construction of a land-based substation and cabling that will feed power from the floating turbines into the existing local grid network can begin.

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“The submission of the onshore planning application highlights another key milestone for Pentland, which will provide a testbed for new floating wind technologies while bringing a number of benefits to the local area,” said Richard Copeland, project director for the scheme.

“It was encouraging to see that the onshore plans were well received and very few changes were made to the application following local consultation. At every stage of this project, we’ve aimed to consult as comprehensively as possible to ensure the development remains considerate of the region and its residents.”

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The onshore application submission comes following the submission of the offshore consent application to Marine Scotland in August this year. Alongside these developments, the firm has been working on associated initiatives, including creation of an operations and maintenance base at Scrabster harbour, liaising on a proposed community benefit fund for the Caithness and Sutherland area and supporting careers in engineering and technology through its regional bursary awards.

Meanwhile, three offshore wind farm proposals which had been awaiting confirmation in the ScotWind clearing round have been awarded seabed leasing option agreements, meaning they can move to the development stage.

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The 100MW Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm, off the north coast of the Scottish mainland, will be the largest of its kind in the world – generating enough renewable electricity to power around 70,000 homes

The move takes the total number of ScotWind projects with option agreements confirmed to 20. Together these – a mixture of floating and fixed-bottom schemes – will generate up to 27.6GW of clean energy. Each year £56 million in option fees will be paid by the three successful applicants, bringing the total figure for the 20 projects to £755m. Once operational the projects will pay millions of pounds each year to Crown Estate Scotland, which is responsible for leases on the seabed. These funds will be passed to the Scottish Government for public spending.

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Colin Maciver, head of offshore wind development for Crown Estate Scotland, said, “Today’s confirmation of three more ScotWind agreements is extremely positive news. These projects will further boost delivery of clean offshore energy that is central to Scotland’s efforts to tackle the climate emergency, secure the UK’s energy supply and generate billions of pounds of investment in Scotland.”

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