Sectoral marine plan for offshore wind energy: social and economic impact assessment scoping report

Sets out the methodology and scenarios for scoping and undertaking a socio-economic impact assessment.

1 Introduction

1.1 Background

1.1.1 The UK is the current market leader in offshore wind power, with around 6.7 GW of installed capacity by the end of March 2018 [1] , all of which consists of conventional fixed-bottom foundation technology located in relatively shallow water depths (<40 m) and near to shore (<30 km). As installed capacity increases and the opportunities in shallow near-shore sites is exhausted, projects will need to be developed further from shore and in deeper water, which will pose greater technical challenges and constrain efforts to reduce costs.

1.1.2 In response to this challenge the industry is considering the potential for deep water offshore wind foundation technology to unlock deep water sites at a competitive cost of energy. Scotland has natural advantages in terms of a combination of high wind speeds and abundant deep water sites.

1.1.3 To date, three floating wind demonstration projects have been granted consent with the Hywind demonstration project becoming operational in October 2017. A combination of high wind speeds, abundant near-shore deep water sites, and the ability to leverage existing infrastructure and supply chain capabilities from the offshore oil and gas industry create the requisite conditions to position Scotland as a world leader in floating wind technology.

1.1.4 As part of Scottish Ministers' review of the Draft Sectoral Plan for Offshore Wind Energy, there is an opportunity to incorporate deep water wind technologies within an updated Offshore Wind Plan to ensure the spatial strategy is in place to enable the successful development of this sector.

1.1.5 A range of different technologies have been proposed for floating offshore wind [2] ( Figure 1):

  • Spar-buoy: a cylindrical ballast-stabilised structure which gains its stability from having the centre of gravity lower in the water than the centre of buoyancy;
  • Semi-submersible platform: Buoyancy stabilised platform which floats semi-submerged on the surface of the ocean whilst anchored to the seabed with catenary mooring lines; and
  • Tension leg platform: a semi-submerged buoyant structure, anchored to the seabed with tensioned mooring lines, which provide stability.

1.1.6 These technologies all have different strengths and weaknesses and may be appropriate in different conditions.

1.1.7 It is intended that the Sectoral Plan for Offshore Wind Energy will provide locations suitable for a range of different conventional and deep water wind technologies although the Plan will be technology neutral with technology preferences determined by the market.

Figure 1 Floating wind foundation typologies [3]
Figure 1 Floating wind foundation typologies

1.2 Plan Development Process

1.2.1 The draft Plan will be developed based on Marine Scotland's established process for developing sectoral offshore energy plans (Figure 2). A scoping exercise has been undertaken by Marine Scotland Science to identify areas of constraint and opportunity for offshore wind development (Marine Scotland, 2018). The scoping exercise has identified a number of strategic areas of search ( AoS) for offshore wind including deep water wind development ( Figure 3). These areas will be refined to develop Draft Plan Option ( DPO) areas based on informal consultation and draft Regional Locational Guidance ( RLG) documents which provide further information on the planning process and detailed environmental, socio-economic and planning related information for each AoS.

Figure 2 Sectoral marine planning process
Figure 2 Sectoral marine planning process

Figure 3 Areas of Search for future offshore wind development
Figure 3 Areas of Search for future offshore wind development

1.2.2 The DPO areas will be appraised through:

  • Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA);
  • Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA); and
  • Socio-Economic Impact Assessment.

1.2.3 Together, these assessments will take account of strategic social, economic and environmental effects of possible development within the DPO areas as well as assessing the potential effects on species and habitats protected by European legislation (Natura 2000). These assessments will inform an overall Sustainability Appraisal of the DPO areas for offshore wind development.

1.2.4 Based on the findings of the Sustainability Appraisal, Marine Scotland will refine the DPO areas and take forward a draft plan for public consultation.

1.3 Socio-Economic Impact Assessment Scoping Study

1.3.1 The purpose of the study is to establish a methodology for scoping and undertaking the socio-economic impact assessment as part of the overall Sustainability Appraisal. The socio-economic assessment will contribute to informing Scottish Ministers' decisions on the content of the Plan.

1.3.2 The scope of the study has been limited to considering the costs to activities associated with potential future development within DPO areas. It does not consider the potential benefits to the offshore wind industry, supply chains or to wider society associated with such development. These benefits will be assessed separately through a Scenario Mapping exercise and taken into account by Scottish ministers in making decisions on the Plan.

1.3.3 The study has been overseen by a Project Steering Group ( PSG) comprising officials from within SG.

1.4 Report Structure

1.4.1 This report is structured as follows:


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