Concern has been raised over whether Scotland will truly reap the benefits of the huge ScotWind offshore wind auction, as overseas yards like Lamprell eye work.
The UAE-based fabricator, which pipped Scottish firms to lucrative contracts on some of the country’s – and the world’s – largest offshore wind developments, like Moray East and Seagreen, has welcomed the awards announcement.
On ScotWind, Lamprell chief executive Christopher McDonald said it will send “waves of confidence” for companies to invest in capacity to meet growing demand.
“As a leading provider of foundations and engineering services across existing UK offshore wind farms, we are excited by the ambition being shown by Scotland in this next critical phase in this fast growing industry.”
“The ScotWind announcement is an important message to the world about the significant role that offshore wind power will play in a sustainable, low carbon energy future. The level of visibility will send waves of confidence through the entire supply chain, encouraging companies to invest in the capacity required to meet the growing demand for renewables infrastructure.”
ScotWind awards were announced this week by Crown Estate Scotland, which are expected to raise £700 million for the Scottish Government and potentially lead to projects with a whopping 25 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity.
While much of the bidding process has focussed on local content being played up, concern remains about whether the brunt of jobs, such as those in construction, will go to Scotland, particularly as these pledges cannot be legally enforced.
The GMB Union said there must not be a “Scotland for sale” mentality around the offshore wind awards.
GMB Scotland secretary Louise Gilmour said: “We’ve heard the fanfare from the First Minister and the industry, but unless we see evidence that successful firms will commit to significant supply-chain investment and domestic job creation, then all this will amount to is a ‘Scotland for sale’ sign to the rest of the world.”
The trade union has highlighted, through its Action for Arnish campaign and other work, “the powerful illustration of the political failure” from Scotland’s last offshore wind “boom”.
In 2010, it was predicted that the new energy would produce tens of thousands of Scottish jobs, but the majority of work went overseas to yards such as Lamprell, Belgium’s Smulders and COOEC-Fluor Heavy Industries in China. It’s understood the latter will be assessing ScotWind projects as they get closer to development.
Prospect, the union for scientists and engineers among other specialists, has said the £700m raised from ScotWind should be used on domestic jobs and training.
In order to win work and ensure Scotland is competitive with overseas counterparts, the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC), a private and public sector partnership, has recommended using a portion of the cash to help develop port “clusters” in Scotland to build up a floating wind supply chain.
The ability to achieve that may play a deciding factor in whether Scotland will reap the benefits of the auction and the wider floating wind industry.
Sir Jim McDonald, who led a report produced by SOWEC last year, conceded there “will be a competition” once these ScotWind projects eventually come around to development, but told Energy Voice last month that there has been a “convergence” of industry and government to ensure the port cluster vision is achieved to capture the opportunity.