The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme, a joint industry and government scheme, brings together nine offshore wind developers with over 72% (31GW) of the UK’s licensed capacity. The project aims to deliver the 10% reduction in time for offshore wind developments in Scottish waters with partners working together to identify technological challenges and prioritising those with the most significant savings potential, before developing innovative solutions.
The OWA will receive £200,000 in 2014/15 and £2,000,000 in 2015/16. The money will be used to: a) encourage international collaboration between the world’s leading offshore wind developers to address cost reduction challenges in Scottish waters; b) share knowledge on foundations and installations, operations and maintenance, the best wind farm layouts, electrical systems and cable installation; and c) support the commercialisation of floating offshore wind turbines for Scottish waters.
“Scotland is admired around the world for our work in renewable energy and in 2013 we set a new record for renewables generation, emphasising our commitment,” said First Minister Alex Salmond, following a meeting with representatives of the Carbon Trust and OWA programme in Aberdeen. “That progress has accelerated into 2014 with new record levels of renewables generation in the first months of this year – up 56% over the year to the first quarter of 2014.”
The Scottish Government’s target is to generate the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s gross annual electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020, as part of a wider, balanced, energy mix. According to Salmond, Scotland is already nearly halfway there.
“Renewable energy is extremely valuable to Scotland’s economy, to reducing our carbon emissions and in providing low carbon energy supplies as well as jobs and long term investment,” Salmond explained. “It also helps keep the lights on across these islands at a time when Ofgem is warning of a tightening gap between electricity supply and demand south of the border.”
As Scotland is home to around a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind resource, the Government is keen to support its development as part of the country’s overall energy mix. “Our support for the Offshore Wind Accelerator further highlights Scotland’s position as a global leader in renewables development,” Salmond stated.
Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, is looking forward to working with the Scottish Government to drive further cost reductions in the offshore wind industry. Key to that success, he said, will be driving costs down through innovation and doing this quickly. “The OWA and this new injection of funding will be key to help meet this cost reduction challenge.”
Industry supports initiative
So far observers are encouraged about the prospects of the Carbon Trust's Offshore Wind Accelerator programme. Lindsay Leask, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, believes “collaborative initiatives like the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator are exactly the sort of programmes we need to really drive down those costs. Offshore wind holds huge opportunities for Scotland, and the industry is very clear that cost reductions are absolutely central to our long-term success.”
Gina Hanrahan, WWF Scotland’s climate and energy policy officer, agrees. “It’s great to see the Scottish Government supporting projects to help lower the costs of offshore wind,” she said. ““Scotland’s windy seas make it one of the best locations in Europe for offshore wind, with the potential to create thousands of jobs, slash carbon emissions, and help keep the nation’s lights on.”
Hanrahan cited studies that estimate that Scotland's offshore wind industry could create 28,000 jobs by 2020 and contribute more than £7 billion of investment to the economy.