Scotland’s seabed has been opened up to new wind farm developments for the first time in a decade, in a move which could lead to multi-billion pound investments.
Crown Estate Scotland, which manages the country’s seabed, has launched the new round of offshore wind leasing in Scottish waters, called ScotWind Leasing.
It said total investment in ScotWind Leasing projects could potentially surpass £8 billion and help power the transition to a net zero future.
Crown Estate Scotland said ScotWind projects could deliver more than enough green electricity to power every Scottish household and that more than six million tonnes of CO2 could be saved each year.
John Robertson, Crown Estate Scotland’s head of energy and infrastructure, said: “Today is a huge step forward in kick-starting Scotland’s green recovery, meeting net zero targets and bringing multi-billion pound investments to benefit communities across the nation.
“Offshore wind is currently one of the cheapest forms of new electricity generation and Scotland is perfectly poised to host major new projects, with a well-established energy skills sector as well as some of the best natural marine resources in Europe.”
It is anticipated that ScotWind will significantly increase the amount of power generated from offshore renewables, which could help meet the Scottish Government’s target of net zero by 2045.
Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s Energy Minister, said: “The launch of ScotWind, the first offshore wind leasing round to be administered in Scotland, is a very important milestone for Crown Estate Scotland and Scottish ministers, but also marks another pivotal moment for the development of our offshore wind sector and also presents an opportunity to help develop our strategic economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As we emerge from the crisis, we have a chance to re-imagine the Scotland around us, and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy, one in which wellbeing, fair work and social justice are prioritised.
“Our seas are host to some of the best offshore wind resources in the world, supporting the continuing growth and expansion of the sector.
“We want to harness this huge resource for our energy system, unlocking significant investment in the supply chain to create more green jobs across the sector and, importantly, to do so in a way that gives due regard to our marine environment and other marine activities.
“My colleagues and I encourage all interested applicants to get involved in ScotWind, to bring forward projects which will help us drive forward Scotland’s green recovery and our transition to becoming a net-zero society by 2045.”
From Wednesday investors and developers will be able to register interest in obtaining an “option agreement” with Crown Estate Scotland.
These can then lead to the signing of leases to build offshore wind farms in one of the areas of seabed to be outlined as suitable in the Scottish Government’s Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy.
RenewableUK welcomed the announcement.
Head of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams said: “The opening of ScotWind Leasing marks a significant step forward for the UK’s offshore wind sector and for the entire country’s green economic recovery after the pandemic.
“It creates multibillion-pound investment opportunities which will last for decades, regenerating coastal communities in Scotland and expanding our wider supply chain which already extends throughout the UK.
“Consumers will benefit too as offshore wind is one of the UK’s cheapest sources of new power.”