One of the most important economic opportunities that lies ahead of us over the next few decades is offshore wind.
While the recent ScotWind licencing round (with around 20 GW of potential projects) has understandably grabbed much of the attention, our potential around offshore wind exceeds even that round.
Currently, there is just under 2GW of offshore wind operating off Scotland’s waters. If every project in the offshore wind pipeline were to be built that would increase by an additional 38GW, a 20-fold increase. This kind of capacity would generate enough annual electricity to meet around half the UK’s total electricity needs.
Investment and jobs
With projects also comes investment and jobs. For example, it has been estimated that for each GW of capacity installed as part of the ScotWind licencing round, there will be £1bn investment in Scotland.
As part of the ScotWind round each developer has both committed in principle to maximise spend in Scotland and how they plan to do exactly that, in written form through Supply Chain Development Statements. These statements will also be updated regularly.
Combined, these projects will literally require the manufacturing, fabrication and assembly of thousands of pieces of equipment such as cables, anchors, towers, blades and many other items. In addition, these projects will require considerable operational support and maintenance activity over their lives and that is a considerable opportunity.
In addition, the recent INTOG announcement is good news as developers of these 13 projects commit to invest in what will be very valuable for the Scottish supply chain, our net zero economy and wider energy transition ambitions whilst also providing real opportunities for technology around green hydrogen too.
Both INTOG and ScotWind projects provide huge potential across Scotland in terms of jobs, international export potential, infrastructure and business innovation. Scottish Enterprise will continue to work with developers and industry partners to take full advantage of the projects as Scotland takes around a third of leased capacity of the global pipeline of total floating projects.
“A good fit for Scotland”
There are several reasons why offshore wind is a good fit for Scotland. Firstly, development of offshore wind will make a significant contribution to the net zero target and the greening of our energy supply.
However, in terms of the economic opportunity, many of our skills developed around oil and gas over decades can be applied to offshore wind in areas such as surveying, installation, operations and maintenance and health and safety.
In addition, there is a strong linkage between offshore wind and hydrogen. For some offshore wind projects that might not easily get a grid connection, there is the possibility that they can produce green hydrogen which we will also need in abundance. Many of the proposed offshore wind projects are looking at such an option.
The growth in offshore wind is global and so if we get this right our offshore wind sector, as has been the case for our oil and gas sector, can be a major global player for many years ahead.
There are huge opportunities for Scotland, however, the rapid growth of the sector over a relatively short time — with many projects planned over the next decade or so — will also create challenges in terms of our capacity and capability to meet them.
So, while we already have many innovative companies already doing business in offshore wind, we will need many more to do so; we will also need to see investment in our manufacturing and fabrication capability as well as seeking to make the required investments around our ports and harbours.
Developers, industry and the public sector are already working on plans to ensure the successful development of these offshore wind projects covering issues such as planning, regulation and grid connections.
But within Scottish Enterprise, alongside the other Enterprise agencies Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the South of Scotland Enterprise (SoSE), our focus is on the economic impact that Offshore Wind Scotland will deliver.
Scottish Enterprise’s aims
Offshore wind is one of our main areas of focus within Scottish Enterprise and we are working hard on activities such as:
- Raising awareness of the opportunity with a focus on communicating that message to the supply chain
- Working with developers to understand their plans around their approach to procurement and how we can match potential Scottish based suppliers to those plans for the best benefit to Scotland
- Working with stakeholders and others to help deliver the investment that will be required in terms of our ports and harbours
- Working with our supply chain, both current and potential, to help get them into the right place to win business through our support and advice in a range of areas including innovation, manufacturing advice, introductions to potential customers and so on
- And looking to bring in investment from both overseas and within Scotland that will be needed to increase our supply chain capacity and ensure that as much economic value as possible remains within Scotland.
- Scotland: a centre for excellence
Over the next few years, Scottish Enterprise will be hosting awareness events, working with developers and others to match supply with opportunity and seeking to attract investment into Scotland.
Its overall aim around offshore wind is for Scotland to be viewed around the world as a centre of excellence with a competitive supply chain in terms of value, competitiveness, and service.
This sector has massive potential to become one of our major economic sectors, proving investment and jobs throughout many parts of Scotland, directly contributing to energy security and our 2045 net zero ambition.
Scottish Enterprise is ready and willing to work with others, both in industry and wider, to help make that aim a reality.
There is a lot to do; Scottish Enterprise is confident that it can deliver on that potential.
Case study: Pict Offshore
Pict Offshore develops solutions for the offshore wind market and has had support from Scottish Enterprise over several years to expand its production site in Inverkeithing, Fife as it continues to supply the Scottish and global renewables industry.
The firm supplies the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms Orsted with its Get Up Safe’(GUS) system, a motion compensated personnel hoist, and is supplying this to some of the largest sites across the globe.
The technology provides a safer and cheaper solution for wind operators in transferring personnel. The initial development of Pict Offshore’s Get Up Safe technology was supported by Scottish Enterprise and is deployed on the largest windfarm in the world at Hornsea Two. This highlights Scottish innovation in engineering on an international scale.
Support and collaboration are key
Pict Offshore managing director Philip Taylor said: “We have been on an incredible journey the last few years and one that would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of Scottish Enterprise.
“From the initial SMART innovation grant that allowed us to start developing the system, to support in growing our headcount and skills base, Scottish Enterprise has backed us up at every step.
“We’re now into the fourth year since the company launched and currently producing systems for three of the first large-scale offshore windfarms in the United States, while also developing our services business to support the growing installed base. With offshore wind set to boom in the coming decades, the future looks very exciting.”