We particularly welcome the launch of Crown Estate Scotland’s offshore wind leasing round at this time.
Whilst we are very much focussed on the immediate economic crisis caused by the global pandemic, it is incumbent upon us to look ahead to new opportunities for our region.
The ScotWind offshore wind leasing round, aligning with Marine Scotland’s Sectoral Marine Plan will make provision for up to 10GW of new projects to be operational between around 2025 through to the early 2030’s.
These projects will touch every part of the Highlands and Islands, offering large scale offshore energy opportunities, which have to date been largely confined to the east coast.
Many of the sites are likely to require different technologies such as floating structures due to water depths.
These technologies lend themselves to local production and are well aligned with the skills and expertise honed by the Highlands and Islands business base through decades of experience in oil and gas.
While still a number of years away from construction, we’re encouraged by the early, detailed engagement from the companies planning to bid into ScotWind.
This will be vital if the industry is to embed 60% UK content into projects in line with the Offshore Wind Sector Deal commitments.
We are working with the supply chain across the North of Scotland, through O4B for example, and in supporting the development of the DeepWind offshore wind cluster.
This is about connecting industry, academia and government agencies in new ways to prepare for the scale up in activity and opportunity offered by the leasing round.
The Crown Estate Scotland’s Supply Chain Development Statements could be a key factor.
We expect these to help instil further confidence in supporting the growth of the Highlands and Islands supply chain to meet the demands of the offshore wind industry across all parts of the region.
This will create inclusive, sustainable employment opportunities through to the middle of this century and beyond.
Audrey MacIver is director of energy and low carbon at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).