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Scotland is on track for a renewables boom that could create thousands of jobs in cities such as Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. With the right support from industry players, Scotland could experience a "step change" in its efforts to maximize supply-chain impact from surging offshore wind activity.
Copenhagen Offshore Partners, a pioneer in floating wind energy projects, has established an international center of excellence in Edinburgh. The company plans to use lessons learned from Scotland when developing wind farms across countries where it has interests such as the USA, Italy and Korea.
Aberdeen's extensive expertise in offshore oil and gas production makes it a prime location for energy businesses to establish offices. Its renewable sector is rapidly growing, with ambitious plans to become a net zero city by 2050.
Aberdeen is home to Europe's largest fuel cell bus fleet and the country's first facility for hydrogen production through water electrolysis. These initiatives form part of Aberdeen's plans to become a world-class hydrogen hub, helping the city cement its position as an innovative smart energy city.
Scotland is well suited for the development of renewable energy technologies as it boasts more than 25% of Europe's wind capacity along its coastline - enough energy to supply more than three times the UK's needs and will help foster Scotland's energy independence.
Dundee is rapidly emerging as a hub for the renewables industry. Its proximity to wind farm projects on Scotland's east coast and Forth Ports Ltd's multi-million pound investment in its port have all played an influential role in drawing energy companies to Dundee.
Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc has recently opened in Dundee as a joint venture between the company and Dundee City Council with the vision to create up to 800 low-carbon jobs by 2040. This park promotes green technologies while offering business opportunities alongside education for young people in this sector.
Scotland's largest wind farm, the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, is situated in Aberdeen. Utilizing next generation technology that uses suction bucket jacket foundations to enable wind turbines to operate in shallower waters than would otherwise be possible, this innovative solution has solved an engineering challenge and proven the viability of floating wind farms.
EDF Renewables is one of the UK's leading renewable energy companies, with a presence in Scotland and an ambition to help Edinburgh Dundee and Aberdeen gain employment through renewables. They develop and construct wind, solar photovoltaic, solar+storage, electric vehicle charging projects as well as providing asset optimization services.
At Atria One in Edinburgh, the company is expanding by more than 100% and creating 60 new jobs. This expansion demonstrates their ongoing dedication to Scotland and comes after they recently finished commissioning of Dorenell Onshore Wind Farm in Moray earlier this year.
In the UK, they have several wind farm projects underway with a portfolio of more than 2 GW under development. Furthermore, they are involved in offshore wind power projects around the world and have an emphasis on battery storage technologies.
They have a significant presence in North America, where they offer commercial, industrial, federal and utility clients solutions to help them control their energy costs and reach their renewable energy objectives. To date they have developed over 9 GW of renewable energy projects as well as 10 GW under service contracts.
Onshore and offshore wind are experiencing rapid growth within the energy industry. They generate large amounts of low carbon energy, offseting over 400,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
Scotland and the UK have taken an important step in decarbonising our electricity supply, which will reduce reliance on fossil fuels, create jobs, and help us become a more sustainable nation.
As a result, an increasing number of young people are studying courses related to renewables - such as engineering, business and management. According to new figures released by 31 colleges and universities in 2019, this number was up more than 70% on 2019's figures; showing that this sector is becoming an increasingly sought-after course choice.
Many of these students are being trained at Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP) in Dundee. This 32-hectare joint venture between Michelin and Dundee City Council aims to create 800 new low carbon and sustainable jobs over the next decade.
Copenhagen Offshore Partners is one of the companies aiding Edinburgh Dundee and Aberdeen in snagging renewables jobs. Recently, they opened an office in Edinburgh to serve as a global centre of excellence for floating offshore wind energy - with more than 50 employees already onboard.
The firm is actively exploring the development of a large floating windfarm on land awarded to project partners at last year's ScotWind auction, including Scottish energy giant SSE and Japanese conglomerate Marubeni. Through the leasing round organized by ScotWind, bidders were encouraged to secure rental agreements on acreage within E1 zone off Scotland's east coast with average water depths of 72m.
Copenhagen Offshore Partners is a leader in providing development, construction and operational management services to offshore wind projects worldwide. With offices around the world - Taiwan, USA, Australia, Japan, Korea and Vietnam - and over 110 employees on staff, Copenhagen Offshore Partners boasts an impressive global reach.
According to UK chief executive Alan Hannah, the windfarms being developed by his company could help Scotland reach its objectives of net zero emissions and a sustainable future. Mr Hannah believes other practical measures for increasing local content include modernizing ports in Scotland and taking advantage of the country's existing offshore expertise and marine industry.
He believes Scotland's offshore waters are ideal for floating windfarms, as they can operate in deeper areas than fixed bottom facilities that must be installed on the seabed. He suggests developing such facilities near ports such as Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Cromarty Firth.
Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), the Danish firm behind CIP Renewables Investment Operation, has identified Scotland as a key market for their portfolio and recently bid successfully in the ScotWind auction. With around EUR 16 billion under management, CIP intends to invest in both fixed and floating wind projects around the world.
The company has already supported the construction of the 84-turbine Beatrice offshore wind farm off Caithness and plans to expand further into the UK market. Furthermore, they recently opened an office in Porto, Portugal to oversee their 2GW Nortada floating wind project near Figueira da Foz.
SSE Renewables creates thousands of jobs in Scotland through its construction and operational activities. Furthermore, it invests in a portfolio of renewable energy projects to become the world's largest developer of offshore wind.
The company currently has several wind farm projects under construction across Europe, Ireland and the UK. One of these is Seagreen wind farm, estimated to be 1,075 megawatts when completed off Angus' coast by SSE Renewables and TotalEnergies in Q2 2023.
Scotland is making strides towards achieving a greener environment by displaceing over 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from electricity generated from fossil fuels each year. This will make an important contribution towards Scotland's net zero ambition by 2045*, equivalent to taking away two-thirds of all Scottish homes' annual car emissions.
SSE Renewables recently unveiled its Just Transition Strategy, outlining 20 principles to promote a fair and just transition when workers move away from high-carbon activities. Furthermore, the company is investing an unprecedented PS7 million per day into essential low-carbon infrastructure to facilitate the transition towards a net zero world.
Mr Hannah suggested that Scotland could develop a range of plants to manufacture tubular steel components, which will be necessary in large amounts on windfarms that are planned off-shore in the future. He mentioned a similar facility in Europe employs 350 people and it wouldn't be difficult to replicate such a facility with adequate investment and support from government.
It is essential to note that, while Scotland can draw upon its oil and gas heritage to play a leading role in the development of floating windfarms, there remain some challenges associated with the technology. Cost and material issues need to be taken into consideration when building these facilities. Nonetheless, this industry is rapidly growing and offers immense job prospects for Scots.