The future of the £2 billion Inch Cape wind farm development which would be visible from the Angus coast will be decided this year.
Situated 10 miles from Arbroath, Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm would be one of Scotland’s biggest renewables projects.
With an output of up to a gigawatt, its 72 turbines would produce enough power for 1.1 million homes.
But there are fears Scotland’s higher grid charges could hinder its progress.
The view from Carnoustie
Turbines could be in place by 2025.
If the project goes ahead, the wind farm would be nine miles from the closest point, Ethie Mains, north of Arbroath.
It would just be visible on the horizon.
The wind farm would be connected via two electrical cables to a station at Cockenzie in East Lothian. Electricity generated would feed into the National Grid.
Future depends on ‘highly competitive’ bidding process
Whether it goes ahead or not lies in the hands of the UK Government.
Inch Cape is expected to be one of around six to eight projects competing in the Government’s Contracts for Difference scheme.
Red Rock Power and ESB Energy, who are privately financing Inch Cape, are bidding against English projects to secure a contract to supply the National Grid.
To be successful, renewable energy projects must demonstrate they can supply low cost energy to the consumer.
The outcome of the auction will be known later this year.
It’s difficult to see a future for the project if it’s not successful at this upcoming auction round.”
Project manager Adam Ezzamel.
Inch Cape project manager Adam Ezzamel described the process as “highly competitive”.
And he said Scottish projects were at disadvantage because of higher grid charges — fees associated with using grid infrastructure.
“It’s a highly competitive auction.
“Scottish projects have an inherent disadvantage because of the high grid charges we pay compared to our colleagues in southern areas of England.
“It’s an auction which guarantees that the consumer at the end of the day will have the lowest cost of energy on their bills.
“It’s very competitive and difficult to get through. But it’s very important that we get through it in order for the project to come to fruition.
“It’s difficult to see a future for the project if it’s not successful at this upcoming auction round.”
Net-zero by 2045
The Scottish Government has set a target of reaching net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045.
Mr Ezzamel said: “I think it’s very difficult to see how either the Scottish or UK governments could meet their net zero targets without projects such as Inch Cape going ahead and going ahead as quickly as possible.
“For that reason we would like to see as much renewable energy capacity awarded by the UK Government as possible at this upcoming auction round.
“We think that’s very important for Scotland and the UK to move towards net-zero as quickly as possible.”
Inch Cape ‘as competitive’ as possible
Mr Ezzamel said the team had worked hard to make the Inch Cape bid more competitive.
Since he joined the project two years ago, they have managed to drive down costs by 30%.
“We now feel we’re as competitive as we can going into the upcoming auction,” he said.
“The offshore wind industry is growing at pace. There are a lot of new technologies available.
“We’ve broken the wind farm down to its constituent pieces. We’ve looked for ways that we can do things in a more cost effective way across the board.”
‘Significant opportunity’ for jobs and local supply chain
The project has its headquarters in Edinburgh.
Mr Ezzamel said there would be “significant opportunity” to create local jobs and supply chain opportunities.
“We’ll be speaking to a number of suppliers and colleagues in the industry as we move forward towards construction.”
He added: “The Inch Cape project will be Scotland’s largest single renewable energy development.
“The next step for the project is to bid for a UK Government Contract for Difference, which is scheduled for the end of 2021.
“To move forward we’d have to be successful at that auction.
“If it is we’ll move as quickly as we can following that auction into construction.
“It might mean wind turbines in the sea off Angus in 2025 or 2026.
“It’s pretty remarkable that 72 wind turbines can generate power for 1.1 million homes at cost levels which are below the market price for electricity.
“The track record of the industry of bringing clean and very efficient power into people’s homes is something I’m very proud to be part of.
“Inch Cape represents a fantastic opportunity to deliver a huge volume of cheap, clean power to the Scottish grid.”