Report recommends investment in floating offshore wind industry to generate £1.5bn for Scottish economy

A floating wind turbine

A new report has called for investment in ‘port clusters’ in Scotland to support the development of a world-class supply chain for the floating offshore wind industry which could generate £1.5bn for the economy.

The Strategic Investment Assessment (SIA) report, commissioned by the Scottish Government and led by University of Strathclyde Principal Professor Sir Jim McDonald, says the offshore wind industry should learn from the oil and gas sector to develop an industry-led collaborative model to secure inward investment, focus activity, engage with suppliers and establish Scotland as a global leader in floating offshore wind.

The report sets out five recommendations to scale up offshore wind manufacturing capability and capacity in Scotland.

Added value

The report suggests that a ‘least-regret’ option to support the development of 22 hectares of new port capacity, suitable for the fabrication of floating wind platform, would deliver £1.5bn of added value for the economy. It suggests further investment could increase this return to £4.5bn.

Doing so would also allow ports to capitalise on projects coming out of the current ScotWind leasing round by the Crown Estate Scotland, which will grant companies exclusive rights over areas of seabed for offshore wind projects.

The report’s five main recommendations are:

  • The offshore wind sector’s priority must be the establishment of a collaboration framework focused on building confidence amongst Scottish ports, so that required investment is brought forward in time. The immediate priority of such a collaborative framework is to support the creation of a Scottish Floating Offshore Wind Port Cluster;
  • Support Scottish suppliers and get them ready to bid for and win work;
  • Celebrate and sell Scottish success;
  • Plan for future growth and the next generation of innovations;
  • Plan for energy transition and a future of far-from-shore, mixed-use energy projects.

The independent SIA report was commissioned by the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council, an industry-government group co-chaired by Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee MSP and industry leader Brian McFarlane of SSE Renewables.

Climate action

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Scotland is a leader in climate action as well as in low carbon technology, research and innovation with a commitment to a just energy transition. Scotland will be one of the first countries in the world looking to deliver floating offshore wind at scale. If Scottish companies are involved in this first generation of floating offshore wind projects, then they will be in a position to sell this expertise around the world.

“However, winning this opportunity will need collective effort and determination. Scottish Ministers and industry leaders must clearly understand and provide the level of commitment and action needed and create the opportunity to forge an effective partnership if we are to grow Scottish success.”

Net Zero and Energy Secretary, Michael Matheson, said: “The offshore wind sector has a vital role to play in decarbonising our energy system and ensuring we become a net-zero economy by 2045.

“With a pipeline of new projects set to be provided by the first cycle of ScotWind leasing, the Scottish Government committed to setting out this Strategic Investment Assessment within our first 100 Days of Government as we seek to better support the offshore wind supply chain and create further good, green jobs as we deliver a just transition to net zero.

“I am grateful to Professor Sir Jim McDonald and his team for delivering the report, which sets out a clear path of the steps we must take to seize the economic opportunity this presents for Scotland. With COP26 in Glasgow approaching, this is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the action we are taking on renewable energy and I look forward to continuing to engage with SOWEC as they take forward delivery of the recommendations.”

The SIA also identifies Scottish subsea engineering companies as a priority group well suited to offshore wind, and sets out a range of actions needed to help them better engage with and win work from top tier offshore wind companies.

Offshore wind presents a major opportunity for Scotland, with around £19bn expected to be spent on projects being installed between now and 2027.