Ministerial Foreword and Executive Summary
In April this year, in response to the latest evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, declared a climate emergency and committed Scotland to meeting our nation’s responsibility for tackling global climate change. Our landmark Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act was passed in September, with Scotland once again demonstrating global leadership.
The Act committed us to the most ambitious, statutory climate targets anywhere in the world, and to reach net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045, ahead of the UK target of achieving net-zero by 2050. We have also set bold interim targets to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 and 90% by 2040. These targets are in line with what is required to meet Scotland’s commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, to limit global average temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less.
Scotland’s targets are extremely challenging; meeting them will require developing as much of Scotland’s renewable energy potential as possible to provide the anticipated growth in demand for low carbon electricity necessary to decarbonise Scotland’s wider energy system. This will require progress in areas such as the energy needed for domestic and industrial heat supplies and our transport systems, as discussed in Scotland’s Energy Strategy.
Offshore wind generation can play a very significant role in helping us meet this challenge, effectively and affordably, while taking into account wider environmental factors and the interests of other users of the sea.
Offshore wind is now demonstrably one of the lowest cost forms of electricity generation at scale, offering cheap, green electricity for consumers. Scotland, with 462,000 km2 of waters within its Exclusive Economic Zone, has a huge potential offshore wind resource, with large, identified areas where we believe this technology can be successfully deployed.
The technology also offers significant economic opportunities. We have a growing, specialist offshore wind supply chain, augmented by a wealth of existing and transferable expertise across the 105,000 people within Scotland’s oil and gas industry. We also have tremendous and growing experience in project management, finance, legal services, planning and environmental monitoring. Our enterprise and skills agencies seek to capitalise on these strengths, and support further infrastructure investment, to maximise the potential supply chain benefits that will flow from a strong and established pipeline of development.
Scotland has an excellent reputation for offshore wind expertise and is recognised as having one of the best wind regimes anywhere in the world in which to deploy projects. Allied to this, we have clear, supportive planning policies and a Scottish Government that is seen as a strong advocate for the technology and its deployment in Scotland’s waters.
Scottish Government support has included grant funding for innovation and, until powers were revoked by UK Ministers, the unique use of our Renewables Obligation (Scotland) enabled the demonstration of vital technology breakthroughs and cost reductions across floating and fixed projects.
We are now taking another major step forward. Alongside this draft Offshore Wind Policy Statement, we are publishing for consultation Scotland’s Draft Sectoral Marine Plan, the platform for a range of vast new opportunities in Scotland’s seas. We estimate that up to 10 GW of offshore wind potential is represented in this plan alone, with specific leasing opportunities to follow in 2020 as part of Crown Estate Scotland’s first ScotWind leasing round. Further opportunities will come forward in subsequent leasing rounds.
The vision adopted by the recently launched Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC), but in advance of the publication of the Draft Sectoral Marine Plan, already included the delivery of at least 8 GW of offshore wind in Scotland by 2030. We believe that this is a sector that is ready to deliver.
Of course we also understand the challenges facing this sector – including the vital importance of working in partnership to strengthen our supply chain by maximising economic benefit for our indigenous companies and potentially attracting inward investment. This is despite a Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction mechanism that has manifestly helped drive down electricity prices for consumers, but which has driven supply chain opportunities overseas to markets with low wages; we continue to argue that, to achieve the Sector Deal target of 60% UK supply chain content, UK Ministers should reform the CfD mechanism in a manner that better reflects total value added for the Scottish and UK supply chains.
Understanding and mitigating environmental impacts, resolving the effects of wind turbines on radar and overcoming the distortive effect of higher and, arguably, unfair transmission costs are other challenges that we must address. Addressing these, and fulfilling the sector’s potential, will mean pulling together across Government, the industry and wider stakeholder community in a spirit of positive collaboration.
It is in this spirit that I urge you to join the conversation on our Offshore Wind Policy. We are very keen for you to feed in your views and experiences and to provide my colleagues and I in the Scottish Government with the necessary evidence to help shape a valuable, forward thinking and ambitious policy for offshore wind in Scotland – one that can deliver the energy we need, in a responsible manner, and which can, through supply chain growth, generate new economic activity across Scotland.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands.