‘Frus­tra­tion’ on jobs mixed with op­ti­mism

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - BUSINESS -

Paul Wheel­house said he be­lieves there is “still an op­por­tu­nity” for Scot­land to get into the busi­ness of build­ing huge float­ing wind projects if it em­braces some of the tech­nol­ogy used in oil and gas.

Trade unions have re­cently crit­i­cised the Scot­tish and UK Gov­ern­ments for “miss­ing the boat” on man­u­fac­ture and sup­ply chain con­tracts – with the lion’s share of Scot­land’s two float­ing projects to date be­ing de­signed and built else­where.

Burn­tis­land Fabri­ca­tion (BIFab) missed out on a deal to fab­ri­cate the 50 megawatt (MW) Kin­car­dine Float­ing Wind Farm, set to start con­struc­tion off the coast of Aberdeen.

Equinor’s Hy­wind Scot­land project also used only a small num­ber of north-east com­pa­nies.

Mr Wheel­house said: “It’s still early stage. I think there are huge op­por­tu­ni­ties to use some of the tech­nol­ogy that’s been used in the oil and gas sec­tor in the pas – bread and but­ter stuff that was used in the Ninian field and oth­ers in the North Sea at the early stages of the oil and gas boom.

“There is op­por­tu­nity still an for this tech­nol­ogy to be de­vel­oped here and we have led in the demon­stra­tion in Scot­land.

“But it’s been frus­trat­ing that the Scot­tish sup­ply chain hasn’t been used more in past projects.”

Mr Wheel­house added: “We’re not yet at the size we need, but we do know the di­rec­tion we need to go down to achieve it.

“What is miss­ing at the mo­ment is an ef­fec­tive route to mar­ket for float­ing wind and that is in the power of the UK Govern­ment.

“We will cer­tainly be en­cour­ag­ing them to think around how to in­no­vate the cur­rent li­cences and power pur­chase agree­ments (PPAs), which ac­tu­ally sup­ports bring­ing this tech­nol­ogy to fruition.

“Float­ing in the­ory should be cheaper than fixed bot­tom off­shore wind in the longer term and there­fore if you fol­low the logic, that is ab­so­lutely the space we should be in.”

Last month, a re­port by Strath­clyde Univer­sity said float­ing wind would “likely re­main” in shal­lower wa­ters with­out sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment. It said the sec­tor needs UK and Scot­tish Govern­ment sup­port if it wants to main­tain “vi­tal” re­new­able en­ergy trade links with Europe.

Asked if Scot­land is up to the chal­lenge, Mr Wheel­house said: “I be­lieve so.

“We know that the com­mit­tee on cli­mate change have also said that we need 75 gi­gawatts (GW) of off­shore wind at UK level.

“Ob­vi­ously, given the share of UK seas that Scot­land has, ap­proach­ing more than half of the UK wa­ters,there­fore­that­gives us a huge op­por­tu­nity there.”

“We do know the di­rec­tion we need to go down”

Mixed emo­tions: En­ergy Min­is­ter Paul Wheel­house

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