We must seize the opportunity offered by floating wind. RenewableUK’s Maf Smith urges the government to extend the deadline for vital subsidy support for floating offshore wind. You might think that the opportunity to support innovative technology which can generate massive amounts of clean power, create thousands of jobs and offer the potential of exports worth billions would be seized by any government looking for new markets around the world. But when it comes to one of the best examples of such a technology, floating offshore wind, there is a sense of paralysis in Westminster which could jeopardise some great projects. Three more floating and innovative wind projects with a combined capacity of up to 120MW are being developed in Scottish waters, which are deeper closer to shore than other parts of the UK. They represent a total investment of £425m, with supply chain contracts worth at least £200m going to Scottish yards and a wider supply chain – if they all go ahead. Critically, these projects will help embed marine engineering expertise into the UK; a knowledge base we can export around the world. Imagine engineers based in Glasgow designing and building floating offshore wind farms off the coast of California or Fukushima. All three Scottish projects are at an advanced stage, having secured planning permission and developed detailed supply chain plans. But they’ve been affected by delays beyond their control, such as supply chain issues and, in one case, long-running legal action brought by the RSPB which has now been resolved. This means that two of the projects are now struggling to meet the deadline for financial support from the UK government under the Renewables Obligation (RO). A special RO, tailor-made for supporting floating and innovative offshore wind at higher rates than the conventional offshore wind RO, was introduced by the Scottish government in 2014. But control over RO policy now rests with the UK government, and the deadline for projects to accredit, by starting to generate power, is this October. Construction work started on the Dounreay Trì project (10MW) off the coast of Caithness in the north of Scotland in March last year – but it’s currently on hold. Scottish firms are lined up to benefit, creating 150 direct jobs during the construction phase. The main fabrication site is set to be Global Energy Group’s Nigg Energy Park outside Inverness, which will make half the steel foundations and serve as the assembly site for the project. The operations and maintenance hub will be in Scrabster on the north coast, and the project will be managed in Edinburgh. The innovative Forthwind project (up to 60MW), off the coast of Methil in the Firth of Forth, is also on hold. The project would use a unique two-blade turbine design rather than the standard three blades, and floating foundations. Just look at the supply chain ready and waiting around the UK: BiFab in Fife is the major steel fabricator; CWind in Chelmsford is set to provide vessels and subsea services; Fugro in Truro is covering geoscience services; the underwriters Aqualis Marine Warranty are based in Aberdeen; FES in Stirling is providing design services; Aberdeen’s Bibby Offshore is handling subsea construction; New Wave Solutions in Weybridge are supporting foundations and marine construction. Independent analysis by BVG Associates found that the project can deliver over £160m in GVA to the UK economy. Long term we’re looking at over 2,000 jobs.
Business Green 20th Feb 2018 read more »
“Paralysis” in Westminster threatens future of floating wind, industry warns.
Business Green 20th Feb 2018 read more »
A green energy trade body has warned Scottish floating wind farm projects are at risk unless the UK Government makes a “simple, minor change”. Under current rules, floating wind power developers will not qualify for subsidies unless their projects start generating electricity by October. Two proposed floating wind farms, one of which would be built off Caithness, are unlikely to be ready in time, leaving them without sufficient funding. RenewableUK has called for the UK Government to move the deadline back to April 2020, giving companies an extra 18 months to get turbines up and running.
Energy Voice 20th Feb 2018 read more »