Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has hinted at an upcoming investment in Scottish port infrastructure to support the growth of the offshore wind sector.
Speaking at the opening session of the Scottish Renewables Offshore Wind Conference in Glasgow, Mr Yousaf announced three initial projects have been selected for the second stage of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Investment Model (SIM).
In addition, INTOG offshore wind projects connected to the offshore oil and gas sector will also be invited to join the SIM process.
The Scottish government said the SIM will help to deliver transformational offshore wind supply chain growth in Scotland through innovative collaboration between offshore wind developers, the Scottish Government, enterprise agencies and Crown Estate Scotland.
Collectively the three projects – which represent a mix of local and inward investment into ports, port infrastructure and manufacturing – have a capital expenditure of around £500 million.
Mr Yousaf said the selection of the three projects represents a “significant milestone” in the Scottish government’s offshore wind programme.
“There are moments when certain industries can stand confident that when they look ahead, they will see a future in which they play a pivotal role in securing the wealth and wellbeing of a nation – Scotland’s offshore industry is at that moment,” Mr Yousaf said.
“Together, we can create the right conditions to attract investment, build the supply chain, recruit and deliver the infrastructure needed to ensure that these projects will thrive.”
Further details of the SIM stage two process will be released at the end of February.
Offshore wind strategic investment
In addition, Mr Yousaf said other projects currently going through the SIM process will continue to be evaluated, with the findings from the stage two process will be used to inform the development of the programme.
Mr Yousaf said in total, of the 45 projects that applied for the SIM process, 38 projects have successfully completed the stage on review.
“These projects have a combined capital value of over £6 billion,” Mr Yousaf said.
“That’s over £6 billion worth of opportunity to support the sector and benefit our economy and benefit our communities.
“Our focus is on advancing those high priority projects, with industry leading the way through early commitments on investment.”
Scottish Government willing to ‘share risk’
Mr Yousaf said the Scottish Government wanted to be partners with offshore wind developers as it continues to develop its green industrial strategy for Scotland.
Mr Yousaf said the Scottish Government needed to demonstrate its willingness to be “brave” and “share the risk” of investing in wind projects with industry.
He added more work needed to be done by the UK and Scottish Governments to implement upgrades to the electricity grid and to reform the consenting process which currently “takes far too long”.
More work also needed to be done to better explain the benefits and the necessity of these projects to the Scottish public, particularly to those employed in the oil and gas sector in the north east of Scotland.
Mr Yousaf said while much work needed to be done, events such as the Scotwind leasing round showed the economic potential of the offshore wind sector in Scotland.
“I think when we look back at the evolution of Scotland’s offshore wind sector, that for me the Scotwind leasing round will be seen as an absolute pivotal milestone and totemic moment in the development and evolution of the offshore wind sector,” he said.
“But there’s absolutely no doubt that there’s more that can be done and we’ll be pushing for greater action.”
Offshore wind sector response
Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack welcomed the First Minister’s announcement and said it highlighted Scotland as a “globally competitive destination” for net zero investment.
“It is clear that 2024 is going to be another critical year for the collaboration and innovation which is driving Scotland to the forefront of the global clean energy race and I would therefore like to thank the First Minister for his continued support of our industry,” Ms Mack said.
Meanwhile, SSE Renewables director of offshore wind Paul Cooley said the company backed the First Minister’s call to tackle the climate and nature crisis together.
“SSE Renewables is fully committed to that approach and we believe developments, like our 4.1GW super project Berwick Bank, present an early opportunity to demonstrate how we can build offshore wind at scale while delivering a nature positive outcome,” Mr Cooley said.
“As a business we stand ready to deliver – supporting jobs, supply chain opportunities and the meeting of vital green energy targets.
“And, as we stand on edge of what could be the largest offshore wind auction ever, we have an opportunity for government and industry to reset, and for the sector to regain its momentum.”
Mr Cooley said if eligible, Berwick Bank could create up more than 4,500 jobs and generate up to £8.3bn for the UK economy.
SSE Renewables said it is hopeful of receiving a final determination from Scottish Government ministers soon, which could pave the way for the project to be entered into the Allocation Round 6 auction.
“We know Scotland could lead the world in offshore wind and deliver homegrown, renewable energy, whilst combatting the global climate change emergency. Now is the time to make good on those ambitions,” he said.