A major new offshore wind farm and test facility off the coast of Aberdeen will help secure Scotland’s reputation as a world leader in renewable energy, the First Minister said.
Nicola Sturgeon also said developments such as the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) will help the country meet its ambitious climate change targets.
Established by Swedish energy group Vattenfall, the EOWDC is Scotland’s largest test and demonstration site and boasts the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbines.
Ms Sturgeon said at the inauguration ceremony: “This development really does help to secure Scotland’s reputation as a world leader in renewable energy generally, but in offshore wind in particular.”
The development has been more than 15 years in the making and has faced many hurdles, not least a legal challenge by the Trump Organisation which was concerned the 11 turbines would spoil the view from its Balmedie golf course.
Jean Morrison of Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG), which first conceived the idea of a wind farm on Aberdeen’s coast, said: “Donald Trump had three appeals and we are here today because those appeals were scuppered.
“We all have felt this project should definitely go ahead, and it has.”
Ms Sturgeon alluded to Mr Trump’s opposition in her speech, saying she hoped the “beauty” of the wind farm” will in time be capable of persuading even the sternest critic”.
Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, also at the ceremony, said he hopes Mr Trump “would see the merits” of the development.
The wind farm, situated around 1.5 miles from the shore, is expected to produce enough energy to power the equivalent of almost 80,000 homes a year.
The first of the turbine foundations was installed in the seabed in March, with the final turbine put in place two months later. It began exporting to the national grid in July.
Ms Morrison said the project showed how the skills of the local oil and gas workforce could be transferred into renewables, with drillers, roughnecks and geologists all playing a part in the EOWDC’s development.
Magnus Hall, president and chief executive officer at Vattenfall, said: “The EOWDC is going to be part of a development that we will see where offshore is taking a bigger share of renewables.
“We are testing a lot of different things here – new foundations, the biggest turbines around are now actually deployed here, and we will also test other things which will make sure in the end that we can build more efficient renewables on the offshore sites.”
Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “The supply chains which have come together on projects like the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, and others including Beatrice and Moray East further north, are already revitalising coastal communities.
“With 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resource, the deployment of technology like these turbines presents an enormous opportunity for Scotland.”
RenewableUK’s chief executive Hugh McNeal said: “These turbines, foundations and cables are state-of-the art pieces of big kit which help developers to build projects faster and produce more power, more cheaply.
“Investing in this kind of innovative technology is central to the offshore wind industry’s ambition to meet a third of the UK’s power needs by 2030.”