A major Scottish consortium, featuring oil and gas supermajor TotalEnergies, has announced its ScotWind bid for an offshore wind project near Orkney.
Dubbed the West of Orkney Windfarm, the 2 gigawatt (GW) proposal has the potential to power more than two million homes and is currently being assessed by the Crown Estate Scotland as part of the process.
Also featuring Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG) and Scottish developer RIDG, the bid is the culmination of five years of engagement between the consortium and stakeholders in Caithness and Orkney.
That includes Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Orkney Harbour Authority and Scrabster Harbour Trust, near Thurso.
The deals are designed to enhance port infrastructure and position the area more competitively to support offshore wind projects in the future.
An exclusive MoU has also been struck with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, formalising a “long-standing relationship” in technical innovation and environmental data collection.
Stephen Kerr, project director of the West of Orkney Windfarm said: “While ScotWind has created the opportunity for a global industry to tap into Europe’s best wind resource, our consortium believes that success will be driven by targeted proposals built upon strong local relationships. We have designed our bid specifically around this location and brought together a unique combination of stakeholders to maximise the opportunities for the region.
“In particular, the upcoming round of offshore wind projects are a terrific opportunity for ports in Caithness and Orkney to win significant long-term contracts in the installation and operational phase of these major infrastructure schemes.
“Our agreements with Scrabster Harbour Trust and Orkney Harbour Authority will enable us to work together with a clear focus on long term delivery. Each port has its own specific capabilities and attributes, and on successful site award we have committed to fund collaborative design and supply studies and to invest where appropriate in improving each harbour’s infrastructure.
“We will apply a similar collaborative approach across the supply chain, working closely with Scottish and UK suppliers to deliver on climate targets and enhance local economies.”
In the England and Wales offshore wind leasing process, TotalEnergies and GIG successfully secured rights to develop a 1.5 GW offshore wind project off the east coast of England.
Jim Buck, harbourmaster for Orkney Harbour Authority, said: “As a location, Orkney offers a natural environment like no other, particularly Scapa Flow which is the second largest natural harbour in the world.
“Our Masterplan embraces decarbonisation and a transition away from fossil fuels. It includes a range of infrastructure enhancements across key locations around the Orkney mainland, including a new deep-water facility in Scapa Flow, which will be crucial to us realising our ambition to deliver social and economic benefit from offshore wind energy.
“The West of Orkney Windfarm is ideally positioned to make significant use of these future facilities and this collaboration represents another key step on our journey to position Orkney as a base for innovation and a major contributor in delivering a carbon-free future for the islands.”
The OWPL consortium has undertaken extensive site investigations, including birds, marine mammals and near-shore geophysical surveys, and has finalised a grid connection agreement with National Grid that will enable the project to commence generation in 2029.
Sandy Mackie, Scrabster Harbour Trust manager, said: “Offshore wind is a once in a generation opportunity for Scrabster Harbour to capitalise on its capability as an operations and maintenance base for a new fleet of offshore wind farms – which could create sustainable long-term skilled local jobs for decades ahead.
“We continue to invest strategically in our port infrastructure – most recently in the Ola Pier and deepwater basin – and our longstanding engagement with the West of Orkney Windfarm gives us confidence to not only further think and plan strategically for the port, but also to engage more widely to explore how Scrabster and West Caithness can seize the wider economic, educational and social opportunity of offshore wind in Scotland.”
Neil Kermode, EMEC Managing Director, said: “EMEC has been working on innovative marine energy projects for the last 15 years helping to deliver £306 million of additional value to the UK economy. Our current portfolio now covers wave and tidal technologies, green hydrogen and floating wind, which all support the governments ambitions to reach net zero.
“We are looking forward to expanding our activities to support the team with the development of the N1 West of Orkney ScotWind site, ensuring that it has a positive environmental and economic impact both locally and internationally.”