Scotland has chance to take global lead in offshore wind, says respected energy economist

An eminent energy economics expert has backed plans for a cutting edge wind farm off the Aberdeen coast today saying that it could be a “real Scottish success story” for offshore wind research and development and that Scotland could take a global lead in offshore wind if it is deployed.

Professor Alex Kemp, director of the Aberdeen Centre for Research in Energy Economics and Finance at theUniversityofAberdeen, made the statement ahead of a key session of the All-Energy trade exhibition and conference inAberdeenwhere the partners behind the more than £230million European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) are to give a project update.

Professor Kemp was joined by champions of the 11-turbine scheme such as Neil Kermode, managing director of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), in Orkney – the only accredited wave and tidal test centre for marine renewable energy worldwide – and Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, a champion of theUKsubsea supply chain representing more than 200 members

The EOWDC, which has been promised a grant of up to €40million by the European Union, will demonstrate the capabilities of the next generation of offshore wind turbines if consented and built.

Professor Kemp, said: “Research and development (R&D) is integral to the successful advancement ofScotlandand theUK’s renewable energy industry. It facilitates robust solutions and leads to wider, long-term benefits such as the acceleration and enhancement of cost reduction and increased productivity. All this should subsequently improve the national financing of renewables. In the longer term, it could reduce the need for subsidies.

“The EOWDC test centre and associated R&D facilities address a fundamental gap in the offshore renewables sector for researching, developing and demonstrating new innovations. It also has the potential to attract new entrants into offshore renewables and make it a more competitive industry.

“It could be a real Scottish success story, similar to that of the Beatrice demonstrator project but on a significantly larger scale.”

He added: “The EOWDC has the potential to putScotlandand theUKon the global renewables map as leaders in offshore wind –Aberdeenhas the energy knowledge, experience and skills to bring this to fruition.”

Project spokesman for the EOWDC, David Rodger, said: “Following our planning application to Marine Scotland last year and an extensive programme of consultation, we have received broad public support for the EOWDC. We do believe we have made a very strong case for the environmental and economic benefits of the EOWDC and that the Scottish planning process will deliver the right decision on the Centre – which is vital toScotland’s plusAberdeenCity and Shire’s renewable energy ambitions.

“We are further encouraged that the EOWDC project has been buoyed with further public expressions of support including Professor Alex Kemp, a world-renowned expert on energy economics.”

EMEC’s Mr Kermode said: “I have seen the strides made in wave and tidal energy when the oil industry’s engineering skills and tools have been brought to bear on our sector. Our test centre has provided the focal point for this local talent and expertise to find its way into this new industry. I firmly believe that the EOWDC will fulfil a similar role for offshore wind and will, therefore, help anchor the economic benefits of building up essential know-how across the renewables industry here in Scotland.”

Mr Gordon, of Subsea UK, said: “Being situated close to the centre of subsea excellence in north eastScotland, the EOWDC will benefit from a world-class subsea engineering base.

“Transferring skills and technologies developed from decades of working from seabed-to-surface in the oil and gas sector will enhance the opportunity for diversification and long-term prospects for future talent in our industry and cementAberdeen’s position as a global energy hub.

“The growth of the renewables industry inScotlandand theUK will create job opportunities at the cutting-edge of global technology development to bring cost effective, safe renewable power generation to the market.”

Among other advocates of the project are Kim Christensen, chief executive of Danbor Ltd, who said: “I think wind power is a force for the years to come mainly due to the drive for low CO2 emissions. It will be an alternative to oil and gas in providing power.

“At our headquarters inDenmarkan area of one million square metres by theportofEsbjerghas been set aside for offshore energy, mainly wind turbines. It is going to be a big business going forward.”

Steve Ham, general manager at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, which is the UK’s only subsea training centre to provide commercial diver andROVtraining at its purpose-built, underwater training site, said: “The offshore wind farm industry is going through a great period of growth; in order to install and maintain these wind farms, well-trained subsea operatives – such asROVpilot technicians and commercial divers who train at The Underwater Centre – will be required. We see a lot of our ex-students getting jobs in this sector, and we believe this will continue to be the case in the future.”

“Renewable energy presents a significant opportunity for every Scottish region,” said Barbara Whiting, lead officer for renewables at East Coast Renewables, which represents the 10 local authorities from Aberdeenshire toEast Lothian. “It is important that we work collaboratively to ensureScotlandis at the cutting edge of the global renewables industry and has a strong offering to attract inward investment.

“The EOWDC will make an important contribution to the future successful development of the offshore wind industry inScotlandand supports our strategy to capitalise on the area’s combined mass of supply chain expertise and research & development resources.” 

Industry support for the EOWDC also includes Scottish Enterprise, which has supported the venture from its infancy and has assisted with funding to date in excess of £200,000, while the Scottish European Green Energy Centre (SEGEC) played a key role in assisting to secure the EU funding.

In the past year others have offered their support including Scottish Renewables, RenewableUK, the Energy Technology Partnership, Aberdeen Harbour Board,Aberdeenand Grampian Chamber of Commerce,AberdeenCityand Shire Councils, economic development bodyAberdeenCityand Shire Economic Future (ACSEF), and Energetica.

OnAugust 1, 2011the project partners behind EOWDC, Vattenfall, Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group and Technip, submitted a proposal to Marine Scotland for planning consent.

Note: Sole responsibility for this document lies with the author.

The European Union (EU) is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

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