The recent subsidy cuts have cast a pall over the future of renewables activity in the UK, especially in Scotland with its high wind potential. [Engerati-UK Wind Subsidy Cut Threatens Investor Certainty]. However, offshore wind developments are proceeding apace and the latest to get the go ahead is the Beatrice wind farm, which will provide 588MW of power once operational in 2019.
The development is significant for several reasons: It is one of Scotland’s largest private infrastructure projects and is also the first in the UK to be supported with Chinese investment. China’s SDIC Power holds 25% along with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) with 35% and utility SSE with 40%.
Wind power for Moray and Highland regions
The Beatrice wind farm will have 84 turbines over an area of 131km2 in the Outer Moray Firth.
Work at the operations and maintenance facility in Wick and the transmission works in Moray will commence this year. Offshore construction will begin in 2017.
Beatrice is expected to bring a range of socio-economic benefits to the local, regional, Scottish and UK economies during both the construction and operational phases.
The wind farm is being developed with a tier 1 supply chain comprising Seaway Heavy Lifting, Subsea 7, Nexans and Siemens and is expected to deliver around £680 million into the UK and Scottish economy via employment and supply chain opportunities during the construction phase and around £400 million to £525 million during the wind farm’s 25-year operational life.
Up to 890 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase and 90 full time jobs once in operation.
“We are delighted that Beatrice has achieved Financial Close and we are extremely grateful for all of the support received throughout the development of the project,” said Paul Cooley, director of Renewables at SSE. “We are proud to progress such a flagship project for the Scottish offshore wind industry and the UK’s skilled supply chain.”
Contracts have already been placed with many UK based suppliers, and Siemens intend to undertake turbine blade construction from its new manufacturing facility in Hull.
Scotland's offshore wind opportunity
Scotland claims to have a quarter of Europe's total offshore wind resources and along with a network of ports and harbours is ideally placed to develop the resource.
Other major developments under way include the adjacent Moray offshore operation, which has been consented for 1,116MW of capacity and Seagreen WInd ENergy's Projects Alpha and Bravo in the Firth of Forth which have been consented for 1,050MW of capacity.
Scotland also has a 100% renewables target for 2020 which Beatrice will contribute towards meeting.