UK's offshore wind capacity: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Information requested

In a tweet sent on 5th August 2021, Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, make the following statement:

“Scotland has 60% of UK's offshore wind capacity and 25% of Europes wind resource.”

Please provide the analysis and data which justifies this statement.


As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

Response to your request

The answer to your question is:

The first part of the statement that “Scotland has 60% of UK’s offshore wind capacity” relates to Marine Scotland’s estimate that Scotland’s seas account for approximately 63% of the UK Exclusive Economic Zone. Data available here.

The second part of the statement – “25% of Europe’s wind resource” – is a dated, but still oftenused figure, which was calculated using data from two reports:

  • Scotland’s Renewables Resource 2001, Scottish Government/Garrad Hassan, 2001. Available here, which estimated a 25 GW potential capacity for offshore wind in Scotland. This report also references a second report;
  • The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA)’s Wind Force 10 ‘A Blueprint To Achieve 10% Of The World’s Electricity From Wind Power By 2020. European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) Forum for Energy and Development, and Greenpeace International, 1999. Available here. This second report states that European offshore wind potential could amount to 313.6 TWh. This figure was then converted to a general capacity, accounting for load factors etc., of 102 GW. While our aim is to provide information wherever possible, in this instance we do not have some of the information you have requested in relation to the data and analysis used to achieve this figure. Unfortunately Scottish Government does not hold a record of the formulae used to arrive at this figure. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held). Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have.

Combining both of these statistics, the estimated 25 GW capacity for Scotland equates to 24.5% of the estimated 102 GW total resource estimate for Europe.

As stated above, this is a dated figure, however the results of the ScotWind leasing round, announced in January 2022, resulting in a combined ambition of 25 GW (the base case of the Garrad Hassan paper) is evidence of Scotland’s significant offshore wind resource, and a massive vote of confidence in Scotland’s potential. This is in addition to Scotland’s existing 2 GW of operational projects, 3.75 GW pipeline of projects consented or under construction, as well as around a further 4 GW from a new leasing round designed to enable development of new offshore wind projects targeting oil and gas decarbonisation.

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