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Bottlenecks at Scottish ports could hamper offshore wind growth, warns industry leader

Courier/Tele News. Dundee story. CR0002827 . Work has been ongoing at Dundee Docks / Forth Ports Dundee, on a wind turbine for an offshore windfarm. Pic shows; the wind turbine at Forth Ports, Dundee. Friday, 27th July, 2018.
Work being carried out on a wind turbine at Dundee Port

Scotland’s lofty offshore wind aspirations could be stifled as companies jostle for position at the country’s ports, an industry expert has warned.

EDF Renewables’ development manager, Dave Sweenie, who has been working on the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) wind farm for more than a decade, said if projects begin to ramp up at the same time, limited infrastructure could cause bottlenecks to occur.

When other industries are thrown into the mix, ports will begin to fill up “very quickly”, creating a “real barrier” for offshore wind deployment, Mr Sweenie warned.

He was speaking during a session on the “barriers and opportunities to UK supply chain growth”, as part of the opening day of Scottish Renewables’ Offshore Wind Conference 2021.

Last year, UK Government announced £160 million to upgrade offshore wind facilities at ports in several regions including Scotland, although some said the funding was just a drop in the ocean.

Despite a number of recent contract wins, Scotland has a habit of missing out on work for offshore renewables developments in its own waters, with a lack of infrastructure compared to other countries a reason given for that.

Mr Sweenie said using the Port of Dundee as the marine hub for the 54-turbine NnG wind farm has taken a significant amount of time out of the site’s “portfolio” and has limited “what else they can do”.

He said: “Port infrastructure could be a real barrier if all the projects are trying to go at once, and that’s what they’re all intending to do.

“Everyone has the aspiration to fabricate in Scotland and we’re going to be doing this when other industries want to use the ports as well – they’ll get busy very quickly.

“It doesn’t take much to fill up a port and, with everything else that we want to achieve in Scotland, it will be crowded – that could be a key limitation in how much we can deploy at once.”

David Stevenson, head of energy supply chain at the Scottish Government, said a way to overcome the “boom and bust” of ports would be for developers to work in a “collaborative manner” to “dovetail” projects.

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