3. The future position
This chapter presents an analysis of responses to questions 10 to 12 of the consultation. These address the future position for offshore wind in Scotland.
What the future looks like
Q10: Considering the currently available literature and analysis, what do you consider a successful offshore wind industry in Scotland in the future would look like?
There were 27 responses to this question.
Delivers national and local benefits
The dominant theme in responses was that a successful offshore wind industry would deliver local and national benefits. Much of this discussion focused on employment and economic benefits, often in relation to the local supply chain. Other positive impacts included diversification of Scotland's economy, less reliance on outsourcing and imports, and enhancement of domestic skills and expertise, which Scotland could ultimately export. A few described social benefits, such as positive impacts from the mitigation of climate change achieved by net zero emissions.
It is worth highlighting that some participants went on to describe how success could be achieved. This is covered in the analysis of responses to question 12, which asked about the actions industry and government should take to achieve Scotland's ambitions.
Achievesnet zero ambition
Many respondents argued that success meant achievement of net zero emissions targets in Scotland and the UK; a few suggested these targets might be exceeded. In the discussion, one described the excellent conditions for floating offshore wind.
Maximises export potential
Several respondents suggested that success would include exporting from Scotland. For example, one called for key niches in the supply chain to be identified and exploited. Another envisioned Scotland serving the international market for floating offshore wind. In the discussion on this theme, one observed Scotland's favourable position in having greater scope to facilitate renewable energy production than other countries.
Linked to discussion of the global context, one respondent felt that success could result from first-mover advantage. Another suggested Scotland could develop a world leadership role linked to expertise in planning, consenting, impact mitigation and management.
Hydrogen production and wind farm models and
Production of clean hydrogen was referenced by some respondents in their discussion of a successful offshore wind industry. One described the value of a storable net-zero energy carrier to the energy system that can decarbonise heating, peaking power generation, industry, heavy transport and shipping. This respondent suggested new windfarms should have electrolyser capacity; for existing windfarms to be retrofitted with this technology; and observed that in future, some windfarms might be built solely for producing hydrogen.
Another respondent observed that Aberdeen City Council has already developed some of the most significant hydrogen infrastructure in Europe, and this provides an excellent platform for the development of a true hydrogen economy. In this discussion, one highlighted that a successful sector would have a mix of floating and fixed bottom sites.
Environmentally sensitive approaches
Protection and preservation of biodiversity, marine life and other heritage or environmental obligations were raised by some respondents. One felt a Marine Nature Fund could support this ambition; another noted the important role of environmental monitoring and research; one reflected on the value of alignment with Scotland's National Marine Plan.
Competitive hub or base for the sector
Reference to hubs, centres of excellence or other site or knowledge clusters were found in a small number of responses. For example, one described the number of operational windfarms they expected in one site by 2045; Aberdeen City Council reflected on the potential for an offshore wind production hub in the area; another suggested hubs should have closer interactions with local research centres such as colleges and universities.
Synergies in research and policy
In contemplating success, a small number referenced the value of collaboration by all stakeholders including policy and research. One explained this would achieve efficiencies; another specifically reflected on removal of barriers to demonstration and deployment.
Fixed bottom capacity
A few observed that a successful industry would include fixed bottom capacity; one highlighted the UK's market share of fixed bottom capacity should be maintained.
The scale of deployment
Q11: What scale of deployment would you estimate or believe to represent a successful outcome, and why?
Twenty-nine respondents left comments at question 11.
General discussion of deployment
Across responses there was general discussion of the opportunities and challenges facing industry, and many did not make reference to a specific preferred scale of deployment. For example, one respondent called for an aspirational vision; another explained they did not have a fixed view on a precise rate of deployment; one urged for a rate of deployment which maximises the opportunities to meet Scotland's net zero target.
There was some discussion of the ongoing work by the SG to quantify Scotland's contribution to the UK wide target; reflecting this, one respondent welcomed opportunities to input into any future reviews on the scale and timing of deployment.
Deployment rates by 2030
The draft policy statement sets out several growth scenarios and explains that Scotland's offshore wind capacity could potentially exceed 8 GW by 2030. Beyond general discussion of scenarios, the second most common theme in responses was for Scotland to aim for a greater rate of deployment than 8GW by 2030. Within this group, a small number favoured 12GW, two respondents advocated for a rate of 8-10GW, one proposed a range of 10-15GW, and another suggested a rate of 16GW.
Some participants explained the levels of deployment they proposed were necessary to deliver the net zero ambition. One suggested their proposed deployment rate (12 GW) also offered economic benefits arising from the potential for Scotland to export energy.
Deployment rates by 2045 or 2050
A range of views were put forward about longer term prospects for deployment. Two respondents suggested that 30+GW by 2045 would be a successful outcome. In discussion of deployment by 2050, at the lower end of the scale, a few respondents advocated for a deployment rate of 20-25GW; a small number suggested Scotland should aim for 30-35GW; and one advocated for a broader range of between 30-40GW by 2050.
In discussion, many participants talked favourably of Scotland's capacity to make a substantial contribution to the UK-wide targets established by the Committee on Climate Change, reflecting an abundance of wind resources. Several referenced the appetite for development and expansion within the industry.
Opportunities and challenges
In looking to the future, some participants identified opportunities for Scotland to take advantage of including the potential for economies of scale. Many of these points are covered elsewhere in this report. There was repeated mention of economic benefits and Scotland's capacity for development of floating offshore wind capacity.
The challenge of establishing an effective pace of deployment was frequently referred to. Some described complex development processes involving a range of stakeholders; one urged for a more interventionist approach by government; one outlined the role for local government in 'collaborating with industry and infrastructure providers such as ports and harbours'. Others made general comments on the need for streamlining and effective planning to avoid bottlenecks. One highlighted the lengthy timescales from inception to deployment; noting the crucial role of targets for 2045 and 2050 to drive progress in the immediate future.
Other important challenges associated with future expansion of deployment include potential adverse impacts on Carbon Capture and Storage capabilities.One respondent explained deployment in this sector is expected to commence once the majority of offshore wind installations are in place; highlighting this will not be possible if portions of seabeds are sterilized in the process of wind farm deployment. Two emphasised that greater levels of deployment must not be achieved at the expense of the natural marine environment.
Actions to ensure a positive future
Q12: 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?
Thirty-two respondents left comments at question 12.
Calls for the SG to show ambition, develop a clear vision and develop an effective policy framework dominated responses to this question. The level of detail in comments on this theme varied; for example one asked for greater government intervention in achieving ambition; another urged the SG to follow the examples set by Norway and Denmark, who offer financial support and use statutory powers to facilitate the growth of a local supply chain, increase corporate confidence in investment, and mandate research and development. Another suggested that the Government could enhance social and economic gains by directing the Scottish National Investment Bank to focus on climate change and establishing a publicly owned energy company.
In reflecting on leadership, one respondent called for clearer links between Scotland's offshore wind policy in the context of its broader Energy Strategy. Across responses there was discussion of opportunities for Scotland, particularly the capacity for developing floating offshore wind, which one described as a matter of global interest, noting Scotland must move quickly. One observed the commercialisation of floating offshore wind will allow increasing use of [Scotland's] deeper waters, which in turn will allow increased ambition for offshore wind. There was also reference to growth in other technologies associated with offshore wind, such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.
Within these comments there was reference to Scotland's deployment targets, echoing responses to question 11. A small number of respondents highlighted that Scotland had a solid platform for growth. For example, one noted the SG previously set a 2020 100% renewable electricity target which was a daunting/unbelievable target for those working for many years in the industry, they would like to see more stretching targets.
A few respondents urged the SG to ensure that development does not have an adverse effect on marine wildlife. There were also some calls for a pipeline, timeline or roadmap to accompany the policy or vision statement.
Investment was the second most common theme in comments on action for government and industry. Respondents highlighted areas for investment such as workforce development, research and development and infrastructure, including port facilities.
In this discussion, it was noted that the SG could deliver investment directly or indirectly, by providing loans or underwriting risk. One highlighted areas of investment for industry to consider, such as projects in community support funds and support for the emerging Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund; another suggested effort and investment in environmental monitoring and research is required.
Another prevalent theme across responses were references to the role of the SG in assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the offshore wind sector. Examples of the issues to assess varied; one respondent asked for a forecast of labour needs, another called for a broader assessment of the entire development ecosystem, not just the construction phase. In commenting on the task of assessing challenges, a few highlighted specific issues with grid charges and grid access.
Cross sector engagement
The value of collaboration across government and industry was described by some participants. In this discussion, one respondent highlighted the importance of cooperation through the Sector Deal, OWGP and SOWEC; another noted the need for knowledge development and sharing between the main industries engaged in offshore wind R&D and the public sector (including universities) led by the SG.
Discussion of cross sector engagement spanned national issues to local sites. For example one respondent observed the juncture where the next steps on the national co-ordination and strategic development of the critical network infrastructure… ought to be considered, planned and implemented quickly; another called for engagement with communities and supply chains in areas like the North Highlands which are likely to be closest to major offshore wind developments.
Fostering market conditions
Some respondents reflected on the role of government in establishing conditions for a strong market, echoing comments covered elsewhere in this report. This included calls for an efficient planning system, changes to transmission charging, annual CfD auctions, assuring a revenue stabilising mechanism and regulatory changes. One respondent suggested that UK companies should be involved in all aspects of the design and build of the offshore wind development projects.
The leasing process
A small number of respondents advocated for changes to the leasing process, for example, by concluding the Scotwind leasing process to open up new development opportunities. There was also a call for regular leasing rounds to be put in place.
Two respondents urged the SG to agree basic employment standards and trade union recognition that governs all work in the offshore supply chain.
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