Jobs promised

Suppliers await benefits as wind farms approved

Nicol Stephen’s firm is behind the Green Volt project

First Minister Humza Yousaf has hailed approval for six renewables projects as some specialists in the sector questioned how much the Scottish supply chain will benefit.

Marine Scotland has approved the £3 billion Green Volt Offshore Wind Farm which will be Europe’s first commercial-scale floating wind development, while five other wind and tidal energy projects have received consent. 

The Green Volt farm, which was first announced last November, is one of two being developed by Scotland-based Flotation Energy and Norwegian business Vårgrønn, a joint venture between Plenitude (Eni) and HitecVision.

Green Volt will include up to 35 floating wind turbines, providing up to 560 MW of renewable energy capacity. As part of Crown Estate Scotland’s Innovation and Targeted Oil & Gas (INTOG) leasing round, it will deliver renewable electricity to oil and gas platforms, replacing existing natural gas and diesel power generation.

Mr Yousaf said: “Investor confidence in Scotland’s renewable sector is growing as illustrated by significant investments in ScotWind leasing rounds and in the ports and supply chain infrastructure facilities that will enable the sector to develop.”

He made a veiled reference to the delayed Berwick Bank development in the Firth of Forth by adding: “We have a strong record in delivering robust consents, ensuring the right projects are built in the right place at the right time.

“Ahead of the Allocation Round 6 (AR6) application window closing, the relevant consents and marine licences were issued for two floating offshore wind projects as well as one wave and three tidal energy projects, allowing all of them to go forward.” 

The other projects are:

  • Highland Wind – Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm (offshore wind)
  • Simply Blue Energy (Orkney) – CorPower wave energy converters (wave energy)
  • Orbital – Orbital Eday 3 and Orbital Eday 4 (two tidal energy projects)
  • Nova – OCEANSTAR and SEASTAR (two tidal energy projects)
  • Magallanes Renovables – Magallanes ATIR platforms (tidal energy)

Olav Hetland, CEO at Vårgrønn, described the planning consent for Green Volt as an “essential stepping stone from current small-scale projects to gigawatt-size developments, supporting the supply chain in scaling up new technology.

“Floating wind is set to be a huge global market in the decades to come. By being a frontrunner, Scotland is now positioned to be home to world-leading expertise and a whole industry of new jobs.”

Former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen, now CEO at Flotation Energy, said: “Gaining consent just over a year after our seabed exclusivity was awarded is a testament to the commitment, speed and determination of our Green Volt team, the Scottish Government and its key agencies.

“This multi-billion pound development can now move forward confidently, creating hundreds of local jobs and proving that the UK and Scottish supply chain is ready to deliver commercial scale floating projects, at pace.”

Sir Ian Wood on Question Time
Sir Ian Wood: sending out a huge signal

Sir Ian Wood, chairman of ETZ, said the development will confirm Scotland’s international reputation in the renewables sector by sending out “a huge signal to domestic and international investors that Scotland is indeed a pioneer in this technology and the ideal location to manufacture and deliver floating wind developments.”

While many greeted the consent decisions enthusiastically, sceptics questioned how much of the investment will be retained in Scotland.

Engineer Andy Hill wrote on LinkedIn: “Hundreds of Jobs… I don’t think so, Windfarms have very small maintenance crews, far smaller that an Oil Platform. An most of the steel and control construction will be done in some other country.”

Subsea control systems specialist Steve Soper added: “They’ve promised jobs in offshore wind for years but most of the large component manufacture takes place half way round the world as it’s cheaper.

“Even the jackets are manufactured in the Middle and Far east when we had jacket manufacturing par excellence in the NE in the height of the O&G boom. I reckon Scotland will not even see a quarter of that investment.”

Project engineer Derek McGillivray added: “Good news. Job numbers are questionable. Scotland will see little benefit from the energy produced. The local content should be a default percentage, sadly as of yet none have achieved this. Another export which will bypass our Parliament and Treasury.”

The consents follow the opening of the world’s first Floating Wind Innovation Centre in Aberdeen by the First Minister last month.

“With one of the largest concentrations of subsea engineering capabilities anywhere in the world and the largest cluster of energy supply chain companies anywhere in the UK, there truly is no better location than the North East of Scotland to invest in low carbon technologies,” added Sir Ian.

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