Associate Feature: Delivering Scotland’s green industrial revolution
The stormy seas of the North Sea are set to deliver a green industrial revolution for Scotland that will shape our economy for generations to come.
With 10,000 new jobs, a major fabrication yard in Scotland, and a multi-billion investment in the development of floating offshore wind, we are on the verge of the greatest industrial innovation since the dawn of the oil and gas sector.
As we prepare to host COP26, Scotland is in prime position to be a global leader in clean energy, harnessing the incredible untapped power of our seas.
This is the ultimate aim of the ScotWind leasing process, which will result in new large-scale offshore windfarms in 15 locations.
And at the heart of the most ambitious proposals are floating turbines, pioneered by Aker Offshore Wind and our partners, Ocean Winds.
Today, about 80 per cent of the world’s wind resources are in waters deeper than 60 metres and are unsuitable for traditional bottom-fixed foundations.
A different solution is required for development in deeper water.
The new industry of floating offshore winds involves giant turbines fixed to steel foundations formed by three floating structures in a triangle, which are then anchored to the seabed by cables - enabling development in water depths which exceed 100 metres.
Aker Offshore Wind and Ocean Winds are the majority owners of Principle Power Inc, which has developed the world’s most proven technology to harness this energy - floating platforms called ‘Windfloat’.
This technology currently operational in two projects utilising the largest wind turbines with a total capacity 75MW, and the proven design means the consortium is uniquely ready to deploy commercial-scale windfarms off Scotland’s coasts - unlocking the resources of deeper waters to drive down the cost of energy and power tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
We have put forward bids for a combined floating offshore energy production total of 6GW across several sites in the Outer Moray Firth, which would be by far the UK’s biggest wind energy development.
With the renewables sector now joined by oil and gas experts, ScotWind will bring a bonanza of jobs, supply chain and manufacturing to Scotland as well as clean electricity and security of supply.
As Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, put it at the Floating Offshore Wind conference in September: “The ongoing ScotWind leasing process has the potential to transform the energy sector in Scotland, including the transfer of oil and gas workers into renewables and into floating offshore wind in particular - we need to make the most of it.”
But long before any windfarms are up and running, there is work to do on land.
So we have produced a detailed manifesto for Scotland to spark the forthcoming green industrial revolution.
At the heart of the blueprint is the establishment of a major manufacturing plant in Scotland for the fabrication and assembly of the steel floating structures.
Our plan involves:
1) Committing early to a floating platform technology: With our majority stake in the world’s most proven floating wind platform (PPI’s WindFloat technology), we have the certainty to commit, plan and prepare to technically and financially support the establishment of a manufacturing facility in advance of the construction phase, and capitalise on first mover advantage of a new global industry.
2) Developing a detailed floating substructure virtual reality immersive visualisation of the offshore site with Scottish experts: As the technology is proven we are already engaged with the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland and the University of Strathclyde has developed a virtual reality visualisation of our ScotWind site-specific design. This will provide the early information that fabricators interested in building in Scotland need to plan ahead.
3) Providing a blueprint for the fabrication facility: Following this, the virtual reality model will be extended to provide advice on an optimum fabrication facility. This will then serve as a blueprint for a range of international fabricators who are interested in locating in Scotland.
4) Investing directly in the facility: Finally, if Ocean Winds and Aker Offshore Wind are successful in ScotWind, we will invest millions of pounds in establishing a fabrication facility in Scotland with the right partner.
But it is not only the floating platforms, turbines, energy services, ports, fabricators and many other aspects that go into the construction of a floating offshore wind site. We will also require many enabling technologies such as substations and cabling. This can provide Scotland with further significant technology and export opportunities, and Ocean Winds and Aker Offshore Wind have already made significant progress.
We have more than 30 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) now in place across the supply chain in support of the bids and the early action needed. Overall, through direct work and supply chain opportunities, our plan would create up to 10,000 jobs in Scotland, along with 200 apprentices, helping to deliver a ‘just transition’ from fossil fuels and mobilising the oil and gas and engineering supply chain by providing major new opportunities.
The energy transition is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invigorate a broad expansion of the workforce skills in Scotland.
There is a commitment to 40 per cent minimum supply chain content in Scotland and 60 per cent in the UK, with early enabling investment of tens of millions of pounds in building supply chain capability within the first two years of winning a site.
Scaling up floating offshore wind from the current largest site (50MW) to develop the UK-wide pipeline (8.8GW) and global pipeline (54GW) will require supporting the supply chain in Scotland early enough to be ready to meet demand and bid competitively in a global market.
We have the ambition, innovation and commitment in Scotland to achieve all this.
We know this well, having decades of experience in Scotland, a depth of understanding of the renewables and oil and gas supply chains, and experience of all the requirements for floating offshore wind.
For 180 years, the Aker group of companies have pioneered engineering solutions, with five decades of experience designing and executing offshore projects in the North Sea as a supplier, developer and operator. In 2020, we established Aker Offshore Wind to bring our maritime experience and expertise to the transition to low-carbon energy as we have been instrumental in the design and deployment of more than half of all semisubmersible offshore installations globally.
To ensure that Scotland can lead the way in floating offshore wind, we have teamed up with Ocean Winds – which already operates Scotland’s largest offshore windfarm off the Moray coast – to submit our ScotWind bids.
Scotland has always been an innovator when it comes to using the seas and oceans as a way of providing livelihoods and materials for communities.
With the COP26 summit in Glasgow, there has never been a better time to showcase Scotland to the world. Ahead of us is a process to turn a vision into a green industrial revolution that will transform our country.
This article is sponsored by Aker Offshore Wind UK.