It was a development the future president of the United States warned could “destroy the magnificence and beauty of Scotland”.
But construction work on the European offshore wind deployment centre (EOWDC) off the coast of Aberdeenshire got underway yesterday - despite several legal attempts to block it on behalf of Donald Trump.
The American billionaire was concerned the development would spoil the view from his golf course, the Trump International Links, which he opened in 2012.
His company, the Trump Organisation, previously lost two legal bids after Holyrood ministers approved proposals for an 11-turbine scheme in Aberdeen Bay.
Now the first underwater foundation for the turbines - known as a suction bucket jacket - has been succesfully installed, a process which developers described as “game changing” for the renewables industry.
The EOWDC is the first offshore wind project to deploy the foundations at commercial scale with each of the 11 steel jacket foundations weighing in at almost ten Boeing 747s.
One of the world’s largest floating cranes, the 25,000 tonne Asian Hercules III, was used to install the first 1,800 tonne structure.
Gunnar Groebler, senior vice president at developers Vattenfall, said: “The EOWDC is a cornerstone of the industry’s drive for innovative cost reduction in offshore wind. To be fossil free within one generation a climate smart offshore wind programme embracing science and technology is really important for Vattenfall.
“Where appropriate, we are keen to see the EOWDC’s novel approach to foundations – along with all its other innovations - rolled out to the rest of the industry.”
Business and energy minister Paul Wheelhouse welcomed the development reaching its first landmark on the road to completition.
“The EOWDC provides a real opportunity to showcase how innovation can continue to reduce the cost of offshore wind and it’s fantastic to, at long last, see the first installation of the project’s offshore infrastructure,” he said.
“As outlined in our energy strategy, we see huge industrial and economic potential attached to offshore wind and floating offshore wind. We will continue to support growth in this sector to maintain Scotland’s position as a strong hub for innovation and to develop supply chain opportunities, as further demonstration and commercial scale sites are brought forward. There is a tremendous opportunity here for partners to collaborate to ensure the sector learns as much as possible from this site in the coming years and I very much look forward to seeing what is achieved.”
Mr Trump hit out at the 2013 decision to proceed with the Aberdeen Bay development, criticising then First Minister Alex Salmond for not blocking it.
“This was a purely political decision,” he said in a statement at the time. “As dictated by Alex Salmond, a man whose obsession with obsolete wind technology will destroy the magnificence and beauty of Scotland. Likewise, tourism, Scotland’s biggest industry, will be ruined. We will spend whatever monies are necessary to see to it that these huge and unsightly industrial wind turbines are never constructed.
“All over the world they are being abandoned, but in Scotland they are being built. We will put our future plans in Aberdeen on hold, as will many others, until this ridiculous proposal is defeated. Likewise, we will be bringing a lawsuit within the allocated period of time to stop what will definitely be the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself.”