Home > News > Forum 24 Partner Blog:…

Ocean Winds – striving to ensure the potential of the Scottish offshore wind sector is realised

From our offices in Edinburgh, we in Ocean Winds are proud to have delivered the near 1 GW Moray East offshore wind farm, as well as being in the middle of installing the world’s largest wind turbines on our sister Moray West project. We are unusual amongst the developer community in having a strong Scottish focus in our UK portfolio which makes us more alive to the benefits and risks of developing these major energy infrastructure projects in Scotland. In addition to Moray East and Moray West we have a strong pipeline of Scottish projects in the 2 GW Caledonia and 2.3 GW Arven projects.

Most with even a passing interest in the energy transition will be aware of the need for major grid upgrades but fewer will be aware that existing weaknesses in the grid are having major impacts on the existing offshore wind farms. We echo the calls for pace in delivery of new grid and recognise our part in supporting the Transmission Operators work to make it happen.

While development work for ScotWind projects, like our Caledonia and Arven projects, can largely progress with Scottish stakeholders, including Scot Gov, we must also recognise the key role that UK gov, and its agencies, has in making policy decisions that have a huge effect on Scottish projects. The mechanisms for recovering the costs of wider transmission upgrades have long been disadvantageous for Scottish projects. Although there is some positive work to reform these transmission charges, the actual forecasts for these charges are getting steadily worse, further eroding competitiveness for Scottish projects in the Contracts for Difference auction process.

However, the darkest cloud hanging over the Scottish offshore wind sector is from the snappily named Review of Electricity Market Arrangements, or more succinctly REMA. More than one of the possible outcomes from REMA would, at best, stall the sector in Scotland.

The success in delivery in Scotland in recent years has helped supply chain and the associated jobs to adapt and grow. Maintaining the pipeline is vital to our chances of reaching ‘net zero’ and is key for confidence across the sector. Current we face a stark dichotomy between (i) soaring transmission charges that effectively say “don’t build here” and (ii) national strategic planning which is leasing seabed, identifying/promoting grid network and port investments to enable Scottish generation.

While there is much discussion and hope for a green hydrogen sector, the near to mid horizon has many uncertainties around technology, markets and costs. We believe that green hydrogen cannot be relied upon as the answer to current grid and electricity market problems.

We look forward to engaging with attendees at Forum24 to find ways to ensure the sustained success of the offshore wind sector in Scotland.

Adam Morrison, Ocean Winds UK Country Manager