US$4 billion wind farm for Scotland as it leads push for wind energy

Green groups welcome wind farm as great news for the climate and Scotland's economy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 May, 2016, 10:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2016, 1:24pm

Scotland is set to strengthen its credentials as a world leader in wind energy after a £2.6 billion (US$3.8 billion) offshore wind farm got the okay, it was announced on Monday.

SSE , the FTSE 100 energy company behind the wind farm, forecast it would power 450,000 homes and described the project as "one of the largest private investments ever made in Scottish infrastructure."

The Beatrice Offshore Windfarm will consist of 84 turbines, provide 588 megawatts (MW) of power and hopefully go online in 2019.

The project's owners are SSE, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and SDIC Power. SSE expects the wind farm to contribute £680 million (US$985) to the economy through employment and supply-chain opportunities during construction, with a £400 (US$580) - £525 (US$760) million boost during the wind farm's 25-year operational lifespan.

"Today's decision reaffirms SSE's commitment to offshore wind and we are proud to progress such a flagship project for the Scottish offshore wind industry and the U.K.'s skilled supply chain," Paul Cooley, SSE's director of renewables, said in a statement.

Scotland is fast becoming a major player in wind energy, housing around one-quarter of Europe's "offshore wind resources." Wind turbines in Scotland provided 699,684 MW hours of electricity in April to the National Grid, according to recent data. The Scottish government says onshore wind power is now the most common form of renewable energy in the country.

Politicians welcomed Monday's announcement, with the Scottish government's minister for business, innovation and energy describing it as "great news."

"Scotland's renewables sector is stronger than ever and our early adoption of clean, green energy technology and infrastructure was the right thing to do," Minister Paul Wheelhouse added. "Renewables are now Scotland's biggest electricity generator and nearly half of gross electricity consumption comes from renewables."

Scotland's director of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) was also positive. "Proceeding with the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm is great news for the climate and Scotland's economy," Lang Banks said in a statement.

"This single project will almost quadruple our offshore wind capacity, helping to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as well as creating jobs and supporting local economic renewal," he added.

Monday's announcement came hot on the heels of last week's news that the world's largest floating wind farm had been given the go-ahead off the coast of Scotland.