Finally, Scotland’s offshore wind industry has the news it’s been waiting for: our first commercial offshore wind projects have been granted planning consent by the Scottish Government.
The announcements, made last week, were a remarkable milestone for renewables in Scotland. Never before had 1.8GW of capacity been consented on the same day. Between them, the Beatrice and MORL projects – with up to 326 wind turbines – could power the equivalent of almost 1.2 million homes.
Already, for every hour Scotland’s lights are turned on, the country’s renewables power 24 minutes. By delivering these offshore projects, that will increase.
Climate change remains one of the single biggest threats to the health of our marine environment, and these projects are absolutely central to our transition to a low-carbon future.
Scottish Ministers, when making their determination on Beatrice and MORL, have not only chosen to support that transition – they have paved the way for the expansion of a new industry in Scotland.
At the peak of their construction, Beatrice and MORL could support over 4,500 jobs, almost 600 of which will remain when the wind farms are operational.
During their lifetime, the projects are expected to bring up to £2.5 billion of value to the Scottish economy.
But delivering offshore wind on this ambitious scale requires more than just the planning consent. It requires finance. We urgently need to see the UK government take the necessary steps in the Electricity Market Reform process.
The big focus now moves on to ensuring the projects secure a Contract for Difference – the new support mechanism for nuclear, renewables and carbon capture and storage – which their backers need to finalise their investments.
Only when that certainty is in place can projects like Beatrice, MORL and the three others currently awaiting consents, really make their impact on the global energy landscape.
There remains a long road yet to travel, but for those of us who are passionate about tackling climate change and creating a thriving green economy from the power off our coastline, it’s a road worth taking.
• Lindsay Leask is senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables