Offshore wind developer Ocean Winds has hit the “first major milestone” in the development of its ScotWind project.
Work on the 2 gigawatt (GW) Caledonia offshore wind farm kicked off on-site in the North Sea, around 25 miles off the north-east coast, this week.
Dependent on weather, contractor Gardline will carry out a one-month seabed survey campaign from the Ocean Endeavour – the vessel sailed from Aberdeen on Monday night.
The £1.6 million study will collect the geophysical data necessary to enable planning, layout and design of turbines and selection of optimal foundations for the site.
It will also allow Ocean Winds to undertake the necessary ecological reviews before submitting an environmental impact assessment, slated for 2024.
Mark Baxter, project director for Caledonia said: “The first activity on site is an exciting milestone for any project. Having been awarded the site in January, we are following an ambitious timeline to bring Caledonia on-stream as quickly as possible to meet the shortage of low-carbon energy which is underlying cause of the current energy crisis.”
The site area for Caledonia spans 165 miles squared, with water depths of between 40 and 100 metres.
It is expected to start producing green energy in 2030.
Ocean Winds won development rights for the Caledonia site in January as part of the historic ScotWind process.
Crown Estate Scotland awarded acreage to 17 successful projects that will deliver more than 20GW of installed capacity.
A couple of months later, successful bidders laid out their plans to invest billions in Scotland’s supply chain.
In a best-case scenario, Ocean Winds intends to invest around £1.4 billion in Scotland and £507m across the rest of the UK to deliver Caledonia.
It will neighbour the company’s Moray East and Moray West developments, which are operational and under construction respectively.
Both scheme are located off the north-east coast, and Ocean Winds, a 50-50 joint venture between EDP Renewables and Engie, has created a base in Fraserburgh to service them.
Mr Baxter says the development of Caledonia will further cement the company’s footprint in the north-east.
He said: “At this stage of the project we’re in the consenting phase. We’re trying to engage with Scottish suppliers in the development phase, and then we’ll crack on into construction and operations and maintenance.
“We have Fraserburgh and Buckie as two O&M bases that we’re already operation from, so we’re very used to working in the north-east and we’re hoping we can expand that further with Caledonia.”