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Scotland’s wind potential to decarbonise oil & gas By Rick Campbell, Head of Offshore at Natural Power

Oil and gas extraction from the North Sea has been a core feature of the global energy market for many decades but whilst the oil and gas sector has been transformational for Scotland, and the UK, our wider commitments to net zero encompass these sectors, and it will mean significant changes are required to meet the targets set.

In March 2021, the Scottish and UK Governments and the oil and gas industry agreed to the North Sea Transition Deal, a Deal that will harness the sector’s 50 years of energy expertise, to accelerate the green energy transition and create a new generation of jobs in communities across the country.

Offshore wind may not be the only answer in helping to meet these commitments, but it’s a proven and reliable source of green energy that offers a direct, sustainable and timely solution. This potential could play a pivotal role in Scotland’s energy system in the decades ahead.

For example, the development of floating wind technology, which offers scope for deployment in deeper water, has significant potential to contribute offshore wind energy supply at affordable prices. Floating technology is particularly well suited to the deeper water abundant around Scotland and in the vicinity of oil and gas infrastructure.

The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy rightly points to the achievements of the offshore wind industry, and the potential that it represents. The Offshore Wind Sector Deal (2019) celebrated these achievements and set numerous targets for the sector including an aim to generate 30 GW by 2030, which has since been increased to 40 GW by 2030. Furthermore, the Scottish Government’s Offshore Wind Policy Statement confirms its intent to see offshore wind play a key role in decarbonisation and our net zero commitment, and suggests as much as 11 GW could be delivered by 2030 in Scottish waters alone.

Ahead of RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables’ Floating Offshore Wind 2021 event in Aberdeen (15th to 16th September), our attention is turned to the forthcoming Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) leasing round which is a scheme for developers to apply for the rights to build offshore wind farms specifically for the purpose of providing low carbon electricity to power oil and gas installations, helping to decarbonise the sector, as well as small scale innovation projects of less than 100MW.

The scheme, which is entirely separate and distinct to the ScotWind Leasing process, aims to maximise the role of offshore wind in reducing emissions from oil and gas production, and to achieve target installed capacity in a way that delivers best value for Scotland, creating supply chain opportunities that support ‘Just Transition’ principles.

In addition to enhancing the role that offshore wind can play in reducing the carbon emissions associated with North Sea energy production, this leasing round will also help develop Scotland as a destination for increased innovation and supply chain opportunities linked to offshore renewable energy.

Crown Estate Scotland plans to open the leasing process for applications in early 2022. Successful applicants will then be granted exclusivity for relevant areas of seabed, with final option agreements put in place following the adoption of the Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas decarbonisation Offshore Wind Sectoral Marine Plan by the Scottish Government.

We await a further announcement outlining additional information on the leasing process in November 2021.

Based on our experience of supporting operators during the ScotWind leasing rounds, we’re preparing for a truly exciting time in our industry. This scheme further strengthens Scotland’s reputation as a world leader in offshore wind and we are paving the way in creating affordable, renewable energy solutions.

Rick Campbell, Head of Offshore Markets at Natural Power, will be attending Floating Offshore Wind on 15th and 16th September 2021 in Aberdeen; Seanergy (remotely) on 21st to 24th September in Nantes, France; and Global Offshore Wind (remotely) on 29th and 30th September, London. If you like to pre-arrange a meeting, please contact sayhello@naturalpower.com

About Natural Power 

Natural Power is an independent consultancy and service provider that supports a global client base in the effective delivery of a wide range of renewable projects including onshore wind, solar, renewable heat, energy storage and offshore technologies.  It has a global reach, employing more than 400 staff across 14 international offices.  Its experience extends across all phases of the project lifecycle from initial feasibility, through construction to operations and throughout all stages of the transaction cycle.