New proposals to make Scotland a monopile construction hub for future UK-wide offshore wind projects has been branded “a really big ask” by a UK renewable energy expert.
John MacAskill, business development and operations director for London-headquartered wind engineering advisers Offshore Wind Consultants, said last night that he doesn’t see monopile production as “a Scottish opportunity”.
He claimed Scotland should focus on its strengths, such as technology and innovative services, rather than wasting time on “white elephants”.
Following the offshore wind summit in Edinburgh two weeks ago, some within the UK and Scottish Government have suggested that Scotland could build monopile structures for SSE’s Dogger Bank project and a number of other English pipeline projects.
Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse called it “an obvious gap in the market”.
But Mr MacAskill warned there was “no logistical reason for it”.
He added: “Why are we focussing on these big prize monopiles for Scotland when it’s unlikely that the time spent on such a white elephant could mean that what we’re good at – such as technology and innovative services – could ignored and not given the same throughput?
“Also, why would you make monopiles all the way up in Scotland for Dogger Bank in the Southern North Sea when you could probably cut 50 or 60 miles by doing in the east of England somewhere, it’s a really big ask. There’s no logistical reason for it.”
“There is going to be a squeeze on monopoles between 2022 and 2027, so there is a market for building monopoles, but why is the Scottish Government talking about it, because I don’t see it as a Scottish opportunity at all.
“One of my worries is the amount of time chasing this could take the oxygen away from what we can do in Scotland – we’ve got to look at what we’re good at, what we’re strong at, and work from there.”
Mr Wheelhouse said a number of future offshore projects are planning to use monopile structures rather than full jackets.
He described it as “an interesting opportunity for the UK supply chain” adding that he’d “want to see Scotland pick up that opportunity”.
But GMB Scotland organiser Hazel Nolan claimed the plans amount to “to nothing more than pie in the sky politics”.
She added: “Until significant investment in Scotland’s renewables manufacturing infrastructure is brought forward, this amounts to nothing more than pie in the sky politics from the Minister – we’ve heard it all before.
“The jobs of the future are rapidly passing us by.
“We urgently need a plan, we need investment, and we need commitments to significant local job creation. What we don’t need is more empty rhetoric.”