A SWEDISH power company is to invest more than £300 million in building Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility, a project that was fought by US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Vattenfall said it would now focus on construction of the 11-turbine Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm project and “help establish the north-east as an international centre for offshore wind innovation”.
Trump complained that the development would spoil the view from his golf resort at the Menie estate outside Aberdeen — but he lost a Supreme Court bid to stop it going ahead.
Onshore construction work near Blackdog, Aberdeenshire, will start this year and offshore work will begin in late 2017. Power should be generated by spring 2018 and the windfarm is expected to operate for 20 years or more.
Vattenfall said it was now the sole owner of Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Limited, the company behind the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC), after it acquired Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group’s 25 per cent share.
Gunnar Groebler, a senior vice-president with the Swedish company, said: “Vattenfall, Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, the Crown Estate, the Scottish Government and many others have been working since consent in 2013 to deliver the project and support the increasing competitiveness of the offshore wind sector.
“Now the Vattenfall team and our contractors will focus on building the project safely and help establish the north-east of Scotland as an international centre for offshore wind innovation.
“Vattenfall’s green light for the EOWDC underlines our long-term ambition to grow our wind-power capacity, including in the UK.”
Paul Wheelhouse, minister for business, innovation and energy, was among those to welcome the project.
He said: “This is great news for the industry. Scotland is admired around the world for our work in renewable energy.
“This project will keep our nation at the forefront of innovation by allowing energy companies to identify new ways to reduce operating costs.
“We are working hard to ensure offshore wind projects can help generate the low-carbon electricity supply Scotland needs and the associated high-quality engineering jobs Scotland wants.”
WWF Scotland’s climate and energy policy officer, Fabrice Leveque, said: “This is very positive news and provides a welcome boost to Scotland’s offshore wind sector. Scotland has 25 per cent of Europe’s offshore wind resource and this new development provides a great opportunity to progress on capturing the benefits at lowest cost and least impact to the environment.”
Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “This investment really is welcome news for the north-east and for Scotland, especially in a week where the UK Government abolished the DECC, the department responsible for dealing with climate change, and details of the scrapping of a carbon-capture scheme in Peterhead came to light.
“The Green group of MSPs will continue to pressure the Scottish Government to live up to its Paris agreement obligations while demonstrating that this type of offshore wind energy provides a safer and more viable energy option than fracking and old fossil-fuel methods.”
Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “We have one of the best offshore wind resources in Europe and it is hugely exciting to see development happening in our waters right now, with hundreds of jobs in offshore wind created in recent months in Campbeltown, Nigg and Wick.”