Scotland's offshore wind route map: developing Scotland's offshore wind industry to 2020

Scotland's offshore wind route map: Developing Scotland's offshore wind industry to 2020.


Scotland has an estimated 25% of Europe's offshore wind potential. Therefore, the large scale development of offshore wind represents the biggest opportunity for sustainable economic growth in Scotland for a generation. To ensure that Scotland exploits this opportunity, the Offshore Wind Group ( OWIG) was established in early 2009.

Co-chaired by the Scottish Government and industry (ScottishPower Renewables), OWIG brings together all offshore wind developers active in Scotland, grid companies, manufacturing firms, academia, other relevant parties and the key public sector bodies to assess what needs to happen now, to secure the large scale development of offshore wind in Scotland for decades to come.

This Offshore Wind Route Map is the culmination of the work undertaken by OWIG, setting out the opportunities, challenges and the priority recommendations for action for the sector to realise Scotland's full potential in offshore wind.

Publication of this Route Map is timely given the increased pressures for the development of renewable energy flowing from the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 1 and the new European Directive on Renewable Energy 2 . Offshore wind will make a significant contribution to Scotland's renewable energy target of 80% of Scotland's electricity consumption coming from renewable sources by 2020. The Route Map also complements the Scottish Government's vision for renewable energy as set out in its Renewables Action Plan 3 .

This Route Map assesses the current position of the offshore wind sector in Scotland and highlights the opportunities for further development of the sector in the form of scenarios for growth. Scottish Renewables and Scottish Enterprise commissioned IPA Economics to compile scenarios illustrating four alternative futures for the Scottish offshore wind industry. Scenario A, the top scenario, is the one to which this Route Map aspires. Reaching full offshore wind capacity and securing one third of the UK offshore wind market will secure an estimated GVA in Scotland of £7.1bn and create 28,377 jobs (indirect and induced employment would increase this figure) 4 . The box below illustrates the offshore wind market that Scotland wishes to host by 2020 and beyond.

2020+ - a Bright Future for Scotland

Full capacity of offshore wind installed in Scotland

Embedded marine spatial planning practices embedded managing activity in Scotland's seas

Grid is available and cost is reasonable

Grid interconnection with Europe allowing Scotland to export renewable electricity

Project development process has reduced in cost by 30%

Successful globally competitive supply chain in Scotland, active in Scottish, UK and international markets

Sufficiently trained and skilled workers to service the offshore wind industry

Further offshore wind projects planned for construction in 2020s and 2030s

Offshore wind developments considered attractive investment propositions - relatively low risk, attractive to pension/infrastructure investments

Public acceptance and awareness of offshore renewables as an important source of renewable energy and economic powerhouse for Scotland

Offshore wind sector accepted as a powerful, influential player within Scottish, UK and European economies.

Scenario A can be compared with three additional scenarios (B, C and D) where capacity and supply chain are secured to more limited extents. Scenario A will not be easy to achieve, the barriers to development are considerable and the timelines are challenging. However, this Route Map provides the solutions to achieving Scenario A and with concerted effort from industry and Government to implement these solutions, confidence in Scotland as a leading offshore wind market will grow. With this sectoral confidence, the proposed offshore wind developments will deliver in establishing a long term, sustainable offshore wind market in Scotland bringing both economic and environmental benefits for decades to come.

The Route Map identifies the following key areas which need immediate action given the scale of the challenges to be addressed.

Investment in Infrastructure

Existing infrastructure is currently considered insufficient to support significant offshore wind project deployment. Key infrastructure requirements for the sector include: sites for manufacturing, installation and operations and maintenance supply chain with access to appropriate load out quayside at ports, vessels, office facilities and housing for personnel.

Appropriate supply chain

The scale of the offshore wind opportunities both in Scotland and the rest of the UK means there will be great demand from developers for services, infrastructure and skills within the same timeframe. There is a risk that Scotland's indigenous supply chain may not be adequately prepared in time to meet and take advantage of the opportunities that will exist both north and south of the border and further afield.

Ongoing Innovation of technologies and practices

There is a real need to drive down the costs of offshore wind development, developers estimate by approximately 30%, reducing the risk to developers and guaranteeing the delivery of the proposed developments across the UK by 2020. The ongoing innovation and development of new and existing technologies and operations will be a factor in driving down current costs, stimulating greater confidence in the technologies and attracting private investment.

Regulation of and access to the electricity grid

Despite the boost to renewable energy generation in Scotland from the positive decision on the Beauly-Denny transmission upgrade, there is a concern that the UK's existing grid infrastructure is unable to support the considerable amount of new capacity coming from offshore renewable sources, especially offshore wind. Whilst the Electricity Networks Strategy Group ( ENSG) report identifies necessary infrastructure works to be undertaken, there is a risk that these upgrades will not be ready alongside developers' timelines. A lack of grid infrastructure and uncertainty around the proposed Offshore Transmission ( OFTO) regime could also delay developments.

Managing the marine environment

As the users of Scotland's seas continue to grow, managing the marine environment for a number of important uses is a challenging and complex task. Marine Scotland, the lead marine management arm of the Scottish Government, is responsible for managing Scotland's seas in an economic and environmentally sustainable way. They are supporting the introduction of this new offshore renewables industry into Scotland's seas through the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 which allows them to undertake marine spatial planning and offshore licensing responsibilities. There is, however, recognition of the challenges they face in doing so including resource issues, rapid transfer to a new regime, streamlining of processes and consistency with other planning regimes in UK waters.

Necessary and available skills

Companies across the UK involved in the renewable energy industry have reported difficulties in recruiting skilled personnel in, for instance, the fields of engineering (electrical, mechanical), design, project management and the marine environment. This is due in part to a general shortage of graduates specialising in such disciplines in the UK, combined with a difficulty in attracting experienced personnel from other sectors due to competition with other more established industries (in particular, the oil and gas industry). This will be exacerbated by competition for skills from the construction and other engineering sector.


Tackling the issues above, in line with developers' timelines, will take investment of unprecedented sums of money, on levels way beyond Government's and utilities current expenditure limits. Therefore, innovative funding solutions must be sought to attract the significant levels of private sector investment needed if the offshore wind sector is to deliver as planned. This challenge is heightened given the current economic climate.

Securing support of local communities and existing users of the sea

Whilst offshore wind development will bring unprecedented economic and environmental opportunities to Scotland, it is key that the offshore wind sector engages directly and frequently with local communities, local authorities, interested parties and existing users of the sea to secure their support for the developments being taken forward.

The consistent theme, across all of the above issues, is timing and accessing unprecedented levels of resource and finance, particularly in the first half of the decade, to make Scotland's offshore wind ambitions a reality.

The following table outlines OWIG's priority recommendations which, if implemented in the near future, will give Scotland the best chance of securing this Route Map's most ambitious growth scenario.

  • Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to focus efforts on delivery of investment in the key clusters identified in the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan ( N-RIP).
  • Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise will build on the port cluster approach, support Scotland's supply chain and continue to market their locations domestically and internationally.
  • Scottish Development International to bring inward investors to Scotland to swiftly fill key gaps in the supply chain and develop new technologies.
  • OFGEM to explore and propose alternative solutions to the existing Transmission Network Use of System charging regime, in order to find solutions which have the potential to encourage offshore wind developments.
  • OFGEM, National Grid and Department for Environment & Climate Change to provide offshore wind developers with assurances that works being undertaken by the Offshore Transmission Owners are aligned to the needs, requirements and timelines of the offshore developers.
  • The Scottish Government (Marine Scotland) to finalise the Strategic Environmental Assessment and take forward the Appropriate Assessment for offshore wind in Scottish Territorial Waters quickly and accurately.
  • The Scottish Government (Marine Scotland and Energy Consents & Deployment Unit) to retain strengths of current consents system, crucially ensuring a 9 month determination where there is no PLI for offshore wind developments (subject to pre-application in advance of submission), resulting from good cooperation between industry and stakeholders particularly on conflicting issues.
  • Establish a demand-led approach to identify the skills articulated by employers with funding through Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council targeting support for the college and university sectors.
  • Skills Development Scotland to work with partners to create an Energy Skills Investment Fund to support the up-skilling of the existing workforce and re-skilling of people entering the industry.
  • The Scottish and UK Governments to provide access to sufficient levels of investment to incentivise port and harbour owners to overhaul their existing facilities to meet the needs of the offshore renewables sectors.
  • The UK Government to agree that OFGEM immediately releases the Fossil Fuel Levy to the Scottish Government to allow for offshore infrastructure in Scotland to be supported and that this transfer will not lead to a corresponding reduction in Scotland's overall budget allocation.

Following publication, OWIG will continue with its programme of work, driven by the recommendations within this Route Map. This programme of work will continue to evolve at a fast pace and significant changes to the programme of work are anticipated over the coming months. The Offshore Energy Programme Board, at strategic level, will oversee the work of the OWIG group as it pursues this Route Map's recommendations. In addition, OWIG will undertake a fundamental review of progress against these recommendations at the end of 2012.

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