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15 May 2023

Offshore wind to bring opportunities to Scottish west coast

Leasing rights have been awarded to two offshore wind developments off Argyll waters, with site investigations beginning this summer.

ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) will begin seabed surveys in the coming months for MachairWind, a 2GW offshore wind farm being developed off the coast of Islay. The 2GW site will have a proposed generating capacity equivalent to power more than two million homes using clean, green electricity.

SPR secured the project area in March 2022 when it was awarded seabed rights for three projects. The other two, 3GW MarramWind in the north east and 2GW CampionWind, will be developed in partnership with Shell.

The three projects aim to accelerate net zero ambitions, boost the local economy and create job and work opportunities.

While MarramWind and CampionWind will be floating wind projects, SPR has said that fixed-bottom wind turbines will be used for the west coast farm. The export cable will connect to an onshore mainland location in the southwest of Scotland. The exact location of the wind farm and the numbers and types of turbines used will be confirmed following site investigation.

Supporting Scotland’s supply chains

The three projects are forecast to cost at least £20 billion, and SPR has committed between £9 and 10 billion of that will be through Scottish content, and the company aims to engage with local supply chains to deliver the projects.

Kiera Wilson, senior project manager for MachairWind, has announced that £75 million of supply chain stimulus funding will also be made available across the three projects to support businesses near the sites.

Wilson has also assured that community engagement will be a focus on the project, with concentration on Islay, Colonsay and Jura to encourage their involvement and maximise benefits for local island communities. A community engagement manager based on Jura was appointed in April 2023.

The developer aims to submit a planning application in the mid 2020s and construction is forecast to begin in the mid-to-late 2020s.

Credit: ScottishPower Renewables

Floating offshore wind

A floating project was subsequently announced for the area in March 2023, with ESB being offered exclusive rights to develop a 100MW project.

Malin Sea Wind is now in the early planning stages and will take development in Scottish waters off the north coast of Northern Ireland to the south-west of Islay.

The project was awarded rights through Crown Estate Scotland’s Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) seabed leasing process that aims to support the reduction of floating offshore wind costs and decarbonise the oil and gas sector.

Paul O’Brien, senior development manager for DeepWind’s North of Scotland Offshore Wind Cluster, announced that DeepWind will partner with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Argyll & Bute Council to deliver two supply chain events in partnership with SPR and ESB in Oban in mid-June for companies in the area, with dates to follow.

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