The offshore wind industry has been warned not to see Scotland as simply a “production base for renewable energy”.
Michael Matheson, Scotland’s net zero and energy secretary, says the country must be a centre for manufacturing and testing the technology that will underpin the energy transition.
And he told the Global Offshore Wind 2022 conference in Manchester that Holyrood is “not prepared” to repeat the mistakes of the past around green job creation.
A painful past
More than 15 years ago, then-First Minister Alex Salmond fatefully predicted that Scotland would become the “Saudi Arabia of renewables”.
In the ensuing years, the lion’s share of the manufacturing work for wind farms in Scottish waters has been sent overseas.
Promises of a long-awaited green jobs revolution are now met with scepticism, though there are hopes that the recent ScotWind leasing round could mark a step change.
Mr Matheson says it is “absolutely essential” the energy transition is delivered in a “fair and just way”.
He said: “Scotland is not prepared to just accept to be a production base for renewable energ. There’s also got to be a manufacturing centre for the technologies that go alongside that.
“As a government we will pursue that ruthlessly through the processes that we are taking forward through areas such as at ScotWind. That’s why we need to make sure that we maximise the potential of our natural resources in offshore renewable wind, and we also need to make sure that we are maximising the jobs associated with this sector.
“We haven’t achieved as much as we would have wanted to in the past, particularly with onshore wind, and we’re certainly not prepared to make that mistake again when it comes to offshore floating wind in particular.”
The SNP MSP also called for an overhaul of the grid transmission charging system, which he described as “clearly outdated”.
Last year the Scottish Affairs Committee carried out an investigation into the matter, concluding that it needed reviewed as a matter of urgency.
Industry bodies and developers have also lamented the impact the system has on wind farms, particularly offshore.
Mr Matheson said: “In order to realise the potential of offshore wind resources, we need to see action from Ofgem on the key issue of transmission charging, and the higher cost of deploying floating wind in Scotland.
“In fact, Ofgem’s own analysis suggest that, if the current system continues, by 2040 Scottish renewables and low carbon generators will be the only ones anywhere in the UK to pay the wider transmission network charge.
“All other providers, including even gas generators, will be paid credits. This is simply unsustainable.”