The potential for investing in the future of wind power and the associated supply chain for Orkney and the north of Scotland cannot be underestimated. I have a vested interest in this working for Orkney – having lived here for 30 years.
The next announcement for the Crown Estate offshore wind leasing round is a key landmark in making steps on the gradual transition to net zero.
As part of this ScotWind bid, I’ve been working closely with the consortium of RIDG, Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and TotalEnergies to put forward a two-gigawatt proposal – named the West of Orkney Windfarm – which has the potential to power more than two million homes.
New offshore wind developments around Orkney will result in several direct opportunities for the region. Among those are strengthening the local supply chain that has a long history of servicing the offshore energy industry. This includes Memorandums of Understanding to enhance ports in Orkney and Caithness as well as formalising a long-standing relationship with the European Marine Energy Centre in Stromness.
In addition, plans for the West of Orkney Windfarm to power a proposed green hydrogen production and export facility on the island of Flotta, Orkney, provides an exciting opportunity for the region to be at the centre of a Scottish green hydrogen future. Importantly, it could also help secure new careers for the experienced offshore workforce in the region
In the shorter term, there is significant work required to support the onshore planning and offshore consenting processes including environmental related work scopes, such as offshore and onshore surveys and desk-based studies that will be required to support the environmental impact assessments. Marine logistics advice, other specialist services and vessel support will also be needed during all phases of the project, with significant developments expected during construction, operations and maintenance.
This milestone moment for Scotland is likely to bolster job creation across the region as well as the economic benefit that the workforce brings. Of course, further industrial development within Orkney and the more remote areas of the north of Scotland will also bring some challenges.
Any project will need to be sympathetically designed and executed to minimise impacts on the local environment and population. The extensive use of local knowledge and resources can assist greatly in this regard.
Knowing the environment, key stakeholders and local policies has been invaluable in informing the scope of work that needs to be completed ahead of submitting applications for onshore planning and marine consents. It also provides an important contribution to the local content of the project.
Having been instrumental to the successful consent of many offshore energy projects throughout Scotland and the UK, it’s great to be able to apply that knowledge and experience in a local Orkney context and be a key part of a project that will provide an important contribution to our journey towards net zero, right on my doorstep.