Associate Feature: Scotwind – developing Scotland as a global leader in floating wind technology
Scotland has a long and proud history of innovation and expertise in science and engineering. From the pioneering work of James Clerk Maxwell in electromagnetic radiation to Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and John Loudon McAdam’s tarmacadam, the work of Scots lives on today in products we still rely on.
The current ScotWind offshore leasing round has sparked huge interest, unsurprising given Scotland’s impressive natural resources, some of the best offshore wind potential in the world and the ever more urgent focus on combatting climate change. The Scottish Government’s ambitious commitment to reaching net zero by 2045, whilst undoubtedly of crucial importance to the environment, also represents a perfect opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the great innovators, building a world leading floating offshore wind industry in Scotland.
If we are successful in the ScotWind round, our plans focus on including the maximum amount of Scottish content possible in the offshore wind farms we build. One option is to use concrete for our floating foundation technology, ensuring the floaters can be built easily at Scottish facilities using a local workforce. Here again innovation is key as we are exploring using low carbon cement with a carbon footprint 16 times lower than traditional cement and expect further progress in the decarbonisation of cement production before construction begins.
Many of the sites made available in this leasing round are further offshore, where water is deeper and wind is stronger. They are ideally suited to floating technology where, unlike more traditional bottom-fixed offshore wind with the turbine mounted on top of a structure fixed to the seabed, a floating foundation is anchored to the seabed by mooring lines in a similar way to large ships. Their location further from the coast makes floating turbines less disruptive to sea life, birds and the fishing industry. Floating wind developments also offer great potential for producing and storing hydrogen.
The technology behind floating foundations builds on a long track-record in the oil and gas sector but needs to be adapted to deliver offshore wind at commercial scale. Small scale floating offshore projects are already producing green electricity in Scotland. The expertise of our team, combining Ørsted’s decades of experience delivering offshore wind around the world with some of the pioneers of floating technology in BlueFloat Energy, will be key to scaling up the industry, bringing costs down and developing skills and knowledge in a workforce that will make Scotland a global leader in floating offshore wind.
We have agreements in place with Scottish suppliers with the technical know-how to provide many of the skills, equipment and facilities we need and plans to support innovative local businesses who can help deliver the new technology. We will also take part in the Fit 4 Offshore Renewables scheme to encourage SMEs who might not previously have considered entering the floating offshore arena.
As with all new technologies, a skilled and motivated workforce is key to success. Scotland has an excellent track record of developing and scaling up an industry as it did so successfully with oil and gas in the 1970s. We’re working with organisations such as Energy Skills Partnership (ESP), Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Aberdeen Renewables Group and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry to ensure we have a fully trained workforce ready for construction to begin.
Perhaps the most innovative part of our plans is our work to ensure the benefits of floating offshore wind are enjoyed by residents of Scotland and Scottish communities. Our recently announced partners, community ownership experts Energy4All, will carry out a consultation with communities around Scotland to find out how they could best be involved, building on the tradition of Falck Renewables’ long-standing approach of sharing the value from its onshore wind farms with the communities where it operates. This has resulted in the community of Fintry owning a turbine at Falck’s Earlsburn Wind Farm and co-operatives set up at eight of its wind farms around Scotland.
This article was sponsored by Ørsted, BlueFloat Energy and Falck Renewables.