Energy giant BP will make Aberdeen the centre of its global offshore wind business as part of a £10billion spending spree if it secures a lease to install and manage turbines in the North Sea.
The company’s global offshore wind centre of excellence would be the centrepiece of a massive investment across Scotland.
BP and its partner, German energy company EnBW, have submitted a bid for a lease through ScotWind, the first offshore wind leasing round in Scottish waters for more than a decade.
There are more than a dozen plots of seabed off Scotland’s shores available to commercial wind developers through ScotWind, which is run by Crown Estate Scotland and is expected to be decided next year.
Several traditional oil and gas giants staked claims for acreage before the window for applications slammed shut on Friday. Equinor and Shell are also in the mix.
Alongside a wind farm that can produce 2.9GW energy, BP has set out ambitious plans which it is estimated will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Scotland, including in Aberdeen.
BP extras – EV charging points, green hydrogen and shipbuilding
This will include a five-fold expansion of its electric vehicle (EV) charging network as well as a green hydrogen production facility and even shipbuilding as it pledges to invest in building up port infrastructure capacity.
However it has ruled our manufacturing the turbines which it expects to source from a original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
BP has already struck a heads of terms agreement to invest a seven figure sum in Forth Ports’ £40m renewables hub at the Port of Leith in Edinburgh. The firm said it was continuing to “work on” plans for Aberdeen Harbour.
Dev Sanyal, BP’s executive vice president for gas and low carbon, said the firm’s partnership with Aberdeen city council and its existing remote operating centre based in Aberdeen was a “massive opportunity” to turn it into a global base for its wind generating capacity.
He said: “We have a partnership with Aberdeen city which we are very proud of signing in September of last year. We think this partnership will have more as a result of what we can bring in terms of offshore wind energy.
“We see a massive opportunity. We have our remote operating centre in Aberdeen today. If you have a remote operating centre using digital tools we can create a base in Scotland that services a much larger canvas than just Scotland.”
BP as also signed a five-year, multi-million pound deal with deal with Aberdeen-based energy consultancy, Xodus, to provide a skills “capability accelerator”.
The initiative includes creating entry-level energy transition roles, and the reskilling of hundreds of oil and gas workers, graduates and technicians with renewable sector capabilities.
Training and upskilling the industry
Together, these investments would support thousands of jobs in the Scottish energy sector and supply chain, and develop new energy transition jobs, skills and capabilities, BP said.
Mr Sanyal said: “The bid would build on Scotland’s deep experience in offshore oil and gas, equipping its workforce and supply chain with renewable capabilities, including creating apprenticeships, and supporting thousands of jobs.
“All of this is aimed at helping generate community wealth and creating a just transition in which people and communities do not get left behind.”
Sir Ian Wood said the firm’s bid was a “great example of BP’s commitment to make Aberdeen the location for its global centre of excellence for offshore wind” which was “testament to our region’s huge potential in this sector”.
The bid would build on Scotland’s deep experience in offshore oil and gas, equipping its workforce and supply chain with renewable capabilities, including creating apprenticeships, and supporting thousands of jobs.”
Dev Sanyal, BP executive vice president for gas and low carbon
Sir Ian, in his role as chairman of ETZ limited which is leading plans to establish an Energy Transition Zone next to the £350m expansion of the South Harbour in Aberdeen, also reflected on the wider opportunity ScotWind offered the region.
“The north east of Scotland is uniquely positioned within the UK to take advantage of the energy transition opportunity and consolidate our position as an all-energy and net zero region.
“Drawing upon 50 years of a world-class oil and gas industry, the region has the existing talent pool, business capability and infrastructure to deliver.
“Its extremely encouraging to see so many high calibre companies bidding in this ScotWind round.
“They will contribute over a period of time to the significant re-skilling of the oil and gas skills into energy transition activities – floating offshore wind and hydrogen together with carbon capture, maximising economic recovery of oil and gas, minimising carbon emissions, and using carbon capture and storage to aggressively develop the new energy transition activities to help us to achieve net zero.
“Approximately 60% of the new ScotWind licenses being applied for are within 100 miles of Aberdeen and we want the north east to experience as much economic benefit from them as possible.
“We must create the environment to capitalise on this immense opportunity and that is precisely why we have developed the Energy Transition Zone, an ambitious and exciting project that will reposition the North East of Scotland as a globally recognised integrated energy cluster that delivers sustainable jobs and growth for the region.”
60% of the new ScotWind licenses being applied for are within 100 miles of Aberdeen.”
Sir Ian Wood
BP has has also launched an online portal for the Scottish engineering and supply sector to take part in the developments and it urges companies based in Scotland, with significant operations in Scotland, or that have plans to relocate their base or operations to Scotland are encouraged to register their interest for future opportunities.
The portal is designed to meet requirements set out by Scottish Government and backed by Crown Estate Scotland that wind energy developers participating in the ScotWind leasing will have to set out the anticipated level and location of supply chain impact from each phase of their proposed projects.
Winds of change for BP
BP’s ScotWind bid is in partnership with German energy company EnBW.
BP has moved quickly into offshore wind which the firm expects will be the fastest-growing source of renewable energy for at least the next two decades.
Earlier this year, both companies formed a 50-50 joint venture to develop and operate two leases in the Irish Sea that offer a combined potential generating capacity of 3gw.
BP also has a partnership with Norwegian-state energy firm, Equinor, to develop offshore wind projects in the US, including projects with a planned potential 4.4gw generating capacity.
Mr Sanyal did not give specific numbers on how much offshore wind would contribute to BPs goal of reaching 50gw of renewable electricity capacity by 2030 except that he expects to see it “more than doubling” from today’s capacity.
He said: “We had zero in offshore wind six months ago. Today we have 7.4gw gross in the world’s largest market, the United Kingdom, and the world’s fastest growing market, the United States. Our ambition is to grow further in this space.”
He added winning the lease would secure BP’s place in Scotland for another hundred years.
He said: “BP has proudly been in Scotland for a century. We believe this bid has the power to support a resilient clean energy future for Scotland for the next century and beyond.”