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Floating wind takes off in Scotland

Photo: Shaun Dakin - Unsplash Wind turbines on blue sky
Shell and ScottishPower are to develop the world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farms off Scotland’s north-east coast, generating a total of 5 GW of energy.

The two energy companies will jointly develop MarramWind (3 GW) and CampionWind (2 GW), providing sufficient renewable energy for about six million households.

Go-aheads for the first floating farms have been agreed as the Scottish Government completed its first auction of offshore wind sites since management of the sector was handed over from London to Edinburgh in 2017. The Crown Estate Scotland has awarded 25 GW of development rights in the auction, far more than was expected.

Seventeen sites will be developed by successful bidders including BP, Shell, Scotland-headquartered SSE, Iberdrola of Spain and its Scottish subsidiary, Scottish Power, and Vattenfal of Sweden. Germany’s RWE and Norway’s Equinor were not successful bidders.

Quoted in the UK’s Financial Times, Rebecca Williams of the Global Wind Energy Council, said: “This will be the first time that floating wind is built at commercial scale. That has huge global significance because it means that offshore wind can be built in places with deeper coastlines, like Japan and Taiwan.”

It is also relevant for US offshore wind development because the country’s west coast descends steeply into the Pacific and is likely to require floating wind technology in future development. So far, there are no offshore wind farms off that coastline.

However, the Biden Administration has laid down a target of 30 GW of offshore wind capacity to be developed by 2030 although some experts question whether this figure can be achieved. Current US offshore wind production is just 42 MW.

Meanwhile, the go-ahead for offshore wind development in Scotland is very important for UK maritime business, including firms engaged in surveys, construction, component manufacturing, land-based supply, as well as installation vessel and other service ship operators.      


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