New subsidies for offshore wind power projects have been welcomed by the renewables industry and environmental campaigners.
The Scottish Government is introducing new support measures, with energy minister Fergus Ewing stating they would “help bring down the cost of developing offshore wind in our deeper waters”.
The creation of two new bands for the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) scheme, which provides financial support for green energy projects, is being announced by Mr Ewing at the Renewable UK conference in Manchester.
One of the new subsidies is aimed at supporting the generation of electricity from offshore tests and demonstration sites using innovative new turbines.
The other will provide financial support for pilot projects using floating turbines or other “non fixed generation” devices.
Mr Ewing said: “Renewables have a significant role to play in Scotland’s future electricity mix.
“These technologies are needed to help decarbonise our electricity system, increase energy security and reduce dependence on expensive and depleting fossil fuels.
“Introducing these two new bands for offshore wind shows our commitment to support these technologies at the right levels, and in a way which limits the cost to consumers.
“These new bands, available only in Scotland, will help bring down the cost of developing offshore wind in our deeper waters.”
Lindsay Leask, senior policy manager for industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland is at the cutting edge of deep water offshore wind technologies and these new banding proposals will help catapult the industry even further forward.
“Up to 10GW (gigawatts) of offshore wind have been earmarked for development in Scottish waters, enough to power some 6.5 million homes, and it’s proposals like this that help sharpen the world’s focus on Scotland.
“By investing in offshore test and demonstration sites now, we will have a greater chance of leading the global race to develop next generation offshore wind technologies and establish ourselves as a key destination for offshore wind technology innovation and deployment; driving down costs and protecting our marine environment.”
She added: “Floating offshore wind turbines are also an exciting new technology which could open up development in even deeper waters.
“This support from the Scottish Government once again positions Scotland as the destination for investment in offshore renewable energy.”
Lang Banks, director of environmental charity WWF Scotland, also welcomed the new subsidies, stating: “This is great news and should really help speed up the development and deployment of offshore wind in Scotland.
“It’s an announcement that potentially puts Scotland at the head of the pack in global terms.”
Mr Banks added: “Successfully developing floating turbines could enable Scotland to secure even more clean energy from offshore wind and help reduce some of the potential impacts associated with traditional seabed based turbines.
“Alongside energy-saving measures, offshore wind and other renewables have a critical role to play in helping Scotland reduce climate emissions, create jobs and generate export opportunities.
“With careful planning we can harness offshore wind while safeguarding the nation’s tremendous marine environment.”