Aberdeen Bay offshore windfarm offers ‘huge potential’, first minister says

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will "convene a summit" over the fairness of wind farm contracts.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opened the Vattenfall's 93.2MW facility in Aberdeen.Pictured is piper Norman Fiddes, Picture by COLIN RENNIE September 7, 2018.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon lauded the “huge potential” for the future of Scotland’s energy sector as she officially opened the Aberdeen Bay offshore windfarm development yesterday.

Ms Sturgeon was speaking on board the Northlink Ferry as it circled the newly opened North Sea windfarm.

Also known as the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC), the £300 million wind project has been generating energy since the July 1 and boasts the world’s most powerful turbines.

Swedish firm Vattenfall became sole-owner of the 11 turbine windfarm in 2016 when it bought a 25% stake from Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG), which was established in 2003 to promote green power.

The first minister said: “I am proud that as part of this ground-breaking project, the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbines are now up and running in Scotland.

“Projects like this deliver enormous economic benefits in terms of jobs and in terms of the support for innovation. There’s some really innovative technology used in the construction of these turbines, it’s really quite mind-boggling.”

Ms Sturgeon also paid tribute to north-east oil and gas expertise and the benefits it brought to the project.

She said: “We’re really lucky we have oil and gas in this area and this project has borrowed many of the expertise from the sector, in terms of technology. This is an important project for the Scottish energy sector and for renewable energy.

During the unveiling, the first minister couldn’t resist including a verbal swipe at US President Donald Trump as she opened the new windfarm.

In 2013, president Trump launched a court battle against the Scottish Government claiming the mammoth structures would blight the view from his Balmedie golf course, with his objections delaying the project by nearly four years.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I think it’s fair to say (the project) has had its opponents along the way, but I hope – and I’m going to use this word deliberately – the ‘beauty’ of what we’re seeing today will in time be capable of persuading even the sternest critic of this fantastic new centre.”

The first minister was joined by Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse who vowed to use the project’s success to push for a Scottish offshore wind developer similar to the Swedish state-owned Vattenfall.

He said: “We are very impressed by what other countries have been able to do with their own state-owned energy companies, in terms of Equinor in Norway and Vattenfall in Sweden, who help develop the economies of their country but also help develop the low-carbon infrastructure.

“It’s early days, but it’s certainly an aspiration that we want to explore. We can’t say at this stage yet what role a public energy company might have in furthering projects like Aberdeen Bay windfarm elsewhere in Scotland, but it’s something I’m keen to look at.”