Floating wind farm study looks to benefits for Scottish economy

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A new study will examine whether building more floating wind farms could boost the Scottish economy.

The £50,000 project will look into scenarios modelling differing scales of development, the impact of government policy and the resulting levels of economic benefit.

The world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind, located around 15 miles offshore from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, started to supply electricity to the grid in October.

Norwegian state energy firm Statoil developed the project but the study will examine how Scottish firms could benefit from the burgeoning technology.

A further three test and demonstration scale projects have planning consent and seabed rights from Crown Estate Scotland, the public body that manages seabed leasing and passes revenue profits to Scottish Government.

Floating wind farms can be built more cheaply in deeper waters than fixed offshore turbines, taking advantage of areas of high wind.

The depth of Scottish waters close to shore is believed to provide an opportunity to capitalise on the emerging floating wind industry.

Sian Wilson, senior development manager at Crown Estate Scotland, which is leading the study, said: “We want to find out the scale of the economic benefits – jobs, supply chain and exports – from growing the Scottish floating wind industry.

“The results of this study will help UK Government and others take policy decisions on how to support development.

“As the low carbon economy grows and the world needs more clean, green energy, there is potentially a great opportunity for Scotland and the wider UK in ensuring we make the most of our competitive advantage.”

Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult is carrying out the study and the company’s head of insights, Gavin Smart, said: “Innovations in turbine foundations and the development of floating wind technologies are key to opening up enormous new wind resources in expanses of water too deep for conventional, bottom-fixed farms.

“This, in turn, creates huge economic opportunities for Scottish companies to capitalise on this emerging market, both here in Scotland and through the export of skills and technologies globally.”

The Crown Estate Scotland is leading the group overseeing the study which includes its English counterpart, The Crown Estate, as well as Scottish Renewables, RenewableUK and the Offshore Wind Industry Council.

The report is expected to be published in summer.