Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Alex Meredith, Berwick Bank Project Director, SSE Renewables
11 December 2023
Associate Feature: Scotland can deliver a global offshore revolution

Partner content

Associate Feature: Scotland can deliver a global offshore revolution

Building world-leading offshore wind projects like Berwick Bank means Scotland can be less reliant on unsustainable fossil fuels and instead secure our own energy future now and for generations to come.

The United Nations has been clear. For a sustainable climate, net zero commitments must be backed by credible action. That includes action to triple the world’s renewables by 2030, and – as has been heard loud and clear at COP28 in Dubai – we must do so in a way that is positive for people and planet.

For us at SSE Renewables, we believe action, not just ambition, is the key to delivering faster progress in the energy transition. Actions that will allow stakeholders to mobilise around shared commitments to fight climate change and deliver the sustainable climate future we all want.

Watching on from Scotland, it may seem the actions we want to take will be just a drop in the ocean compared to actions that global super players can take. But as we know, Scotland has always punched well beyond its weight globally – and in offshore wind energy, it can be a global superpower, accelerating the delivery of the clean energy infrastructure the world urgently needs.

Scotland has set itself a realistic target of achieving between 8GW and 11GW of installed offshore capacity by 2030. Already, the country’s current pipeline sits at 10GW, which includes operational offshore wind farms such as SSE’s Beatrice and Seagreen as well as proposals in the planning stage such as our proposed ‘super project’, Berwick Bank Wind Farm. 

I say ‘super project’ because our plans for Berwick Bank, located in the North Sea in the outer Firth of Forth, represent the delivery of 4.1GW of new offshore wind installed capacity – enough to meet between 37 per cent and 51 per cent of Scotland’s offshore targets by 2030! 

If fully delivered, Berwick Bank would increase Scotland’s overall renewable energy capacity installed today by nearly 30%. It would be capable of generating enough renewable energy to power over 6 million homes annually* – that’s the same as all the homes in Scotland twice over. And it could offset almost 8 million tonnes of harmful carbon emissions^ from being released into the atmosphere each year – similar to eliminating all of Scotland’s annual car emissions.

These positive impacts would not just be felt here at home, securing our energy future now and for generations to come, but would impact globally. Because Berwick Bank is a project on a global scale, one of the largest offshore opportunities in the world right now. It’s even bigger than the biggest offshore wind farm currently in construction – the 3.6GW Dogger Bank in the North Sea. 

If we’re truly committed to meeting Scotland’s offshore targets, as well as helping triple the world’s renewables by 2030, as reaffirmed at COP28, then we must deliver Berwick Bank. 

The project is almost ready to go. We believe the site is in the best possible shape to minimise environmental impacts, including ecosystem management measures that can help compensate for potential environmental impacts from offshore wind. We’ve used cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology to monitor key birdlife species to ensure our proposed offshore developments don’t have adverse effects on the surrounding wildlife. Our comprehensive work in this area has resulted in a reduction of the overall proposed areas of the site by around a third, meaning we can maintain the 4.1GW output, whilst avoiding sensitive areas of feeding grounds for Scotland’s important seabird population. Crucially, studies submitted with the application indicate vulnerable seabird populations could increase in numbers by several thousand birds annually if our proposed compensation measures are implemented. 

We’re making real consenting progress. Berwick Bank has secured a grid connection at Branxton, near Torness, in East Lothian with a second grid connection identified at Blyth in Northumberland. And we’ve already received planning permission in principle from East Lothian Council for onshore transmission infrastructure we’ll need to connect to the grid at Branxton. 

The application for consent for the offshore infrastructure needed is currently before the Scottish Government. We’re hopeful we’ll receive a final determination from Scottish Government ministers early in the new year. If consented for delivery in a timely manner, it could pave the way for Berwick Bank to enter the next round of the UK’s renewable energy auctions, Allocation Round 6 (AR6).

If we’re truly committed to meeting Scotland’s offshore targets, as well as helping triple the world’s renewables by 2030, as reaffirmed at COP28, then we must deliver Berwick Bank

Assuming the budgets in AR6 match the ambition of our 2030 targets, we could power up delivery of Berwick Bank, secure a final investment decision in 2025, and be generating clean electricity from the site in the second half of this decade. 

We could also be generating record levels of skilled green jobs and a potential multi-billion-pound investment here in Scotland, including East Lothian, as well as the wider UK. An economic impact study carried out by independent renewable energy consultants, BVG Associates (BVGA), has shown that at peak construction in 2026 the project could create around 4,650 direct, indirect and induced jobs in Scotland, and 9,300 in the UK - adding an estimated £8.3 billion to the UK economy as a whole over the lifetime of the project.

Ahead of possible construction, we’re already working with multiple local partners to ensure SSE Renewables can engage the local economy and the local supply chain around all the potential opportunities associated with the project.

We want to use the scale of Berwick Bank to deliver the best possible procurement impacts for the Scottish supply chain and to supercharge job creation. And delivering further direct investment into Scotland from offshore renewables, including investment in our local supply chain, will continue to play a big part in our ambitions. Because that investment in people and facilities could mark the turning of a corner and would signal Scotland setting a clear course to be a world-leading powerhouse in offshore wind.

But first, and in the very near term, we need a positive consenting decision for Berwick Bank.
Such a decision would send a positive signal out from Scotland and around the globe to declare Scotland is not only open for business for offshore wind, but is a country taking world-leading action to combat climate change. A country committed to seizing a global opportunity, while delivering locally.

Put simply: it’s time to power up Scotland.

This article is sponsored by SSE Renewables


Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top