Swedish power group Vattenfall today outlined plans to invest £300 million to build Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility.
The move has triggered a deal for the firm to buy out joint venture partner Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) and take full ownership of the 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC), to be sited less than two miles off the coast at Aberdeen Bay.
The EOWDC, which has come under fire from US presidential candidate Donald Trump, will test cutting-edge offshore wind technology and is set to become operational in 2018.
Trump lost a Supreme Court bid in December to overturn the Scottish Government’s approval of the project, which he claims will spoil the view from Trump International Golf Links at Menie.
Gunnar Groebler, senior vice-president and head of Vattenfall’s wind business area, said: “Vattenfall, AREG, The Crown Estate, the Scottish Government and many others have been working since consent in 2013 to deliver the project and support the increasing competitiveness of the offshore wind sector. Now the Vattenfall team and our contractors will focus on building the project safely and help establish the north east of Scotland as an international centre for offshore wind innovation.
“Vattenfall’s green light for the EOWDC underlines our long-term ambition to grow our wind power capacity, including in the UK. The UK government believes that wind power should continue to provide an essential part of the UK’s low carbon electricity generation mix and so we remain committed to expanding our UK operations. In particular, we are confident that the new UK and Scottish governments will continue to support growth in offshore wind as the industry lowers the cost of energy significantly.”
The move comes after former UK government minister Brian Wilson claimed the offshore wind power sector in Scotland was “pretty much dead” after consent for four major east coast projects was overturned.
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AREG chair and Aberdeen city councillor Jean Morrison, said: “This is a big day for the north east of Scotland’s energy industry. The EOWDC is an important element in the strategy to diversify our energy industry, access new international markets, reduce the cost of offshore wind and create and safeguard jobs.
“Now ambitions for our energy industry can begin to become reality.”
Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government’s minister for business, innovation and energy, added: “This is great news for the industry. Scotland is admired around the world for our work in renewable energy. This project will keep our nation at the forefront of innovation by allowing energy companies to identify new ways to reduce operating costs.
“We’re working hard to ensure offshore wind projects can help generate the low carbon electricity supply Scotland needs and the associated high quality engineering jobs Scotland wants.”
Fabrice Leveque, WWF Scotland’s climate and energy policy officer, said Vattenfall’s investment “provides a welcome boost to Scotland’s offshore wind sector”.
He added: “The commitment means millions of pounds of investment in clean power in the north east, creating new jobs and helping to ensure Scotland continues to build on its successful renewable electricity story. Scotland has 25 per cent of Europe’s offshore wind resource and this new development provides a great opportunity to progress on capturing the benefits at lowest cost and least impact to the environment.”