Scotland is in an excellent position to benefit significantly from the deployment of offshore wind. The Draft Sectoral Marine Plan, which has been launched for consultation alongside this document, makes clear the near-term, practical ambitions of the Scottish Government and our agencies to grow this sector.
Offshore wind offers large scale, low carbon electricity at a relatively low cost and is not restricted by factors such as land availability that affect other low cost renewable sources. Scotland has a strong and consistent wind resource; however, its intermittency will require greater flexibility in our energy system to cope with the significant increase in deployment expected and needed in the coming years. Energy storage options such as onshore pumped storage hydro, as well as batteries and hydrogen production, alongside innovations in grid interconnections, could play a key role in managing these issues.
As robotics and autonomous systems become increasingly prevalent within the operation and maintenance of offshore wind projects, we are likely to experience a shift from traditional offshore technician jobs towards roles that are more focused on data and information management. Scotland should continue to build on expertise in these sectors to ensure that we remain able to react to the rapidly evolving technologies that will affect skills requirement in the future.
It will also become increasingly important to focus on how offshore wind farm components are reused and recycled as decommissioning begins to come into play. As we progress towards a net zero economy and society, we must ensure that projects coming towards their end of life are decommissioned in a responsible way that minimises carbon emissions, protects our natural environment and aligns with our policies on the circular and zero-waste economy.
Scotland’s 2 GW of operational and under construction offshore wind capacity could become more than 8 GW by 2030, based on current literature and estimated forecasts of growth trends. However, the most significant economic and supply chain benefits are likely to require substantially increased deployment in the future. Recognising this, and the challenge that net-zero by 2045 represents, we believe that we are going to need much more offshore wind deployment.
SOWEC Vision – SOWEC’s Vision includes the aspiration to “Deliver at least 8 GW of offshore wind in Scottish waters by 2030” . The Scottish Government views this industry-driven ambition as wholly realistic, given the scale of Scotland’s resource and our shared commitment.
Committee on Climate Change – “Net Zero The UK's contribution to stopping global warming” estimated that 75 GW of offshore wind would need to be deployed in the UK to achieve net-zero by 2050 (2045 in Scotland). We are working to quantify what Scotland’s contribution to this might look like, taking into account the potential effect of heat and transport decarbonisation on electricity demand. Although that remains uncertain, we expect that decarbonisation will require a significant increase in the deployment of offshore wind in Scotland out to 2050.
Strathclyde University Floating Wind Paper – the paper “Offshore Wind, Ready to Float? Global and UK Trends in the Floating Offshore Wind Market” examines the progress of floating offshore wind as a key contributor to the global electricity supply mix. This report notes that the UK has 56% of a relatively limited supply of global floating offshore wind capacity, and that despite this being of very modest scale at present, floating wind could reach 4.3 GW by 2030. Scotland’s deep waters and offshore wind resource, combined with transferable expertise and the need to decarbonise oil and gas production, mean that we should be competing for a large share of this potential market. Indeed, Scotland and the UK should lead this market.
IEA Offshore Wind Outlook 2019 – the IEA report finds that the global offshore wind market could increase 15 fold by 2040, with Europe positioned to be the powerhouse of future development. The 20 GW of offshore wind currently deployed across Europe is estimated to rise to 140 GW by 2040 under current policy conditions, and could rise to as high as 180 GW should policies adapt to more ambitious climate change goals.
National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios – two of National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios reach the UK Offshore wind sector deal target by 2030; “Two Degrees”, which achieves 33.6 GW of installed offshore wind capacity, and “Community Renewables”, which achieves 30 GW. However, neither of these scenarios comes close to the 2050 CCC target of 75 GW, as they are based on an 80% emissions reduction pathway rather than a net zero pathway. Two Degrees reaches 54 GW by 2050, and Community Renewables reaches 46 GW. In the FES Net Zero sensitivity update, offshore wind is not considered in detail, although the projected increase of electrification assumes that all levels of renewable generation will need to increase.
There are many variables likely to affect future offshore wind deployment in Scotland. These include:
- Success of policy and innovation in continuing to drive down costs and tackle deployment challenges (especially for floating wind).
- Future electricity demand, including electrification of heat and transportation and future demand for off-grid electricity for hydrogen production.
- Black start capabilities, and the size of the market / requirement for balancing and ancillary services.
- Transmission charging, and the effect of net-zero on influencing future charging regimes.
- Supply chain and infrastructure capabilities.
- Skills, training and workforce availability.
These aspects are considered within this document, and will remain a focus of attention for policy makers, regulators and industry. Their resolution will have a profound effect on future build and capacity scenarios.
10. Considering the currently available literature and analysis, what do you consider a successful offshore wind industry in Scotland in the future would look like?
11. What scale of deployment would you estimate or believe to represent a successful outcome, and why?
12. What actions should industry and government take to address the issues described in this section and ensure the most positive future position for offshore wind in Scotland?