Associate Feature: When it comes to offshore wind, we need to think big and move fast
We are all too painfully aware of the challenges facing Scotland during this energy crisis. It’s a situation that requires action and determination to speed the transition from fossil fuels and ramp up renewable capacity at pace. SSE Renewables is at the forefront of making this happen.
We have been urging both UK and Scottish Governments to help us move quickly to deliver the projects – and energy security - our country needs to break our dependence on volatile fossil fuels.
Key to achieving that goal is Berwick Bank Wind Farm, in the Outer Firth of Forth - one of the largest offshore renewable energy developments in the world. Berwick Bank will be a step-change in scale of delivery of offshore wind in Scotland and is critical to meeting the UK and Scottish Governments’ 2030 offshore wind targets.
The Scottish Government has said it believes 11GWs of installed offshore wind capacity is possible by 2030 on its way to meeting its target of achieving net zero by 2045. This is a bold target, but it is achievable and large-scale projects such as Berwick Bank have a crucial role to play.
Berwick Bank has the potential to deliver up to 4.1GW of installed capacity – nearly 40% of Government’s target. Having built up the experience over many years of delivery of offshore wind in Scotland, SSE Renewables stands ready to deliver this super-project as soon as we get the green light from Scottish Government.
Time is of the essence. On average, offshore wind projects can take as long as 10 years from development to full operation. Scotland has the opportunity to accelerate this timeline by ensuring we have the most efficient consenting process.
The UK Government has also signalled its support for offshore wind projects as part of its Energy Security Strategy setting out how it intends to streamline the approval process.
It is clear the public gets it and wants to see Scotland not only play its part in the energy transition, but also capitalise on the potential for investment and job creation. More locally, we’ve spent many hours and days on roadshows, consultations and community engagement events in East Lothian (where the bulk of Berwick Bank’s onshore infrastructure will come ashore) and beyond. It is clear the public care deeply about the climate emergency and people realise the importance of making the switch to renewable energy at the same time as addressing the nature emergency and delivering jobs and investment.
As we prepare to submit our application it is critical that we retain focus on the overwhelming support for addressing climate change through deployment of offshore wind at speed and scale.
In addition, Berwick Bank - and subsequent offshore wind projects - represents a huge opportunity to secure multi-billion-pound investment in the Scottish supply chain and will ultimately generate enough clean, renewable energy to power more than five million homes, equivalent to supplying all of Scotland’s households twice over.
As we move towards consent, we have worked with regulators and stakeholders in the early stages of development to identify issues and address them before the planning application is made.
For example, at Berwick Bank, we have been in discussions with key stakeholder groups regarding our eco-system approach to supporting Scotland’s iconic seabird populations. That is why we have proposed a halt to sandeel fishing (which many of the key species feed on) in large areas of the North Sea to ensure populations can thrive in the years ahead.
Implementing this measure would result in a huge net gain for Scottish seabirds as a result of the delivery of Berwick Bank. Addressing both the climate and nature emergencies is a massive potential win-win.
There has been a tremendous amount of work done to date that has brought offshore wind projects, and Berwick Bank specifically, to the point where this massive scale up in delivery is possible.
By achieving an efficient regulatory process to allow developers to bring Berwick Bank to fruition, we can help Scotland achieve our ambitions and ensure clean, secure, home grown electricity production for decades to come.
For more information, visit www.berwickbank.com
This article is sponsored by SSE Renewables