The Scottish Government has released a plan for offshore wind that highlights six areas for potential development. The original plan had selected ten regions for offshore renewable energy, however, four were ultimately abandoned due to predicted negative environmental and economic impact.
The six sites still in the running have an estimated energy potential of nearly five gigawatts by 2020, or enough to power 3 million homes. Richard Lochhead, Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary, said that Scotland’s commitment to offshore wind production could generate over $11 billion for the country’s economy and support up to 28,000 jobs over the next ten years.
Lochhead went on to say that Scotland has 25 areas for further exploration beyond 2020, as well as an estimated 206 GW of renewable energy from offshore wind and tidal power production, and that if the country could harness only one-third of that potential, it could mean almost $23 billion in electricity sales by the year 2050.
One of the original 10 short term options (Bell Rock), it is said, was withdrawn as a result of issues arising from possible radar impacts. The sectoral marine planning process and associated Strategic Environmental Assessment raised particular issues surrounding three short term sites in Kintyre, Solway Firth and Wigtown Bay, which has meant that Scottish Ministers have decided that the three sites should not be progressed as part of the offshore wind Plan. This decision was also informed by the developer of the Kintyre site withdrawing from the site due to the available wind resource, technical and environmental effects and issues raised during consultation.
In 2007, England-based firm The Crown Estate undertook a leasing round for sites at least 12 nautical miles off the shore of Scotland, and awarded agreements for two additional sites, which total 4.8 GW of potential power. Those sites combined with the six areas outlined by the Scottish Government’s recent report could give the country almost 10 GW of offshore wind power in the coming years.
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