Developers have hailed a "major milestone" in a groundbreaking windfarm project off the coast of Scotland

The third and final Siemens Energy Offshore Transformer Module (OTM) is ready to leave the fabrication yard this weekend to sail to the Moray East offshore windfarm project, which is 22km from the Aberdeenshire coast, marking a significant step forward in the project’s development.

An OTM is the substation platform out at sea and in what the developer described as a world’s first, three of these will be connected with the capacity to deliver 950MW clean energy from the Moray East project.

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The OTMs, which were fabricated and fitted out in Hoboken, Belgium by Smulders, ENGIE Solutions and Siemens Energy, are an essential part of the wind farm.

They stabilise and maximise the voltage of the power received from the offshore wind turbines before transmitting the electricity to shore.

The OTMs will sit on three-legged jackets and each weigh-in at around 1,100 tonnes.

Each module will transmit the power generated by the 100 turbines across the 295km2 site, back to shore and into the national grid where it will be distributed to homes and businesses.

The OTM, which is significantly smaller in size and weight compared to conventional alternating current offshore wind platforms, will transform the output voltage of the wind turbines from 66 kV to the transmission to shore voltage of 220 kV.

Siemens Energy designed the OTM using a modular fabrication approach which saves cost and time in the delivery.

Mark Pilling, of Siemens Energy, said: “This is a significant milestone in the project to bring low cost, low carbon power to homes and businesses across Scotland.

"Using a modular approach means we have been able to optimise the platforms to the specific needs of the customer and the area being developed, ultimately saving time and cost for the developer. Achieving this milestone is a testament to the hard work of the team who have delivered these components with zero snags to the customer, which is an incredible achievement.”

Marcel Sunier, of Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) Ltd said: “This latest major milestone in the delivery of Moray East is a reminder that the step-change in the transition to low-cost, low-carbon power is enabled by scale and by world-leading innovations. 

"Those innovations include the use of three OTMs, whose modular construction itself marked a major advancement in offshore transmission technology."

Wealth manager St James’s Place’s Academy has said it has supported eight financial advisers as they launched their own businesses in Scotland since lockdown. 

With three located in Edinburgh, three in Glasgow and two in Aberdeen, the new SME owners collectively represent almost a quarter of the 39 recent SJP Academy graduates across the UK who have been supported in setting up their own practices during the pandemic.

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The new Scottish SME owners range in age from 29 to 49 years old and have all pursued a career change from roles including a restaurant manager, video producer, and an analyst.

Through its two-year training programme, the SJP Academy helps the UK’s next generation of highly qualified financial advice professionals to build a career in financial planning and wealth management. The Academists then either launch their own business or choose to be an adviser within an existing Partner Practice.

The St. James’s Place Academy has continued to support those who were already enrolled into the programme and will re-open to new intakes later this year.

It has helped create 73 SMEs since 2012.

Claire Lang, Aberdeen, Edinburgh Academy graduate, said: “Starting a business at any time is going to be challenging, and I didn’t expect my situation to be any different to any other start-up. When lockdown started, I had to redo my business plan and my business launch, but I found it really easy to adapt.

"My potential clients were more than happy to attend a virtual launch event and people have been really delighted to have our meetings over video call. It’s actually given me a greater geographical reach, and it’s a lot easier for people to find time to log in to a meeting from home."

Jason Flood, Academy director at St. James’s Place, said: “We’re proud to have helped so many advisers break into the industry since 2012, but particularly in the current business landscape it’s an immense achievement to have supported new businesses and helped with job creation.

"These graduates have been forced to adapt their initial plans, such as shifting face to face meetings to virtual ones, and it’s really impressive how they have overcome these challenges.

“We set up the Academy with the goal of encouraging more people into the financial advice profession, so we look forward to seeing these newly appointed owners become the financial planning employers of the future as their businesses grow.”

The company behind sub-prime lender Amigo Loans said that it had seen a massive drop in profit as its founder eyes a return in what could prove to be a drawn-out battle with the board.

Amigo Holdings made a £3 million pre-tax profit in the three months to June 30, an 83% drop from its £18.1 million profit this time last year, it said on Friday.

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Investors had been expecting a fall, as the company paused most new lending extended payments holiday to 47,000 customers during parts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Amid warnings that it may not be able to continue trading, the struggling lender has been thrown into a battle over its future with founder James Benamor.

On Monday, the board urged Mr Benamor not to insist on calling a shareholder vote on a series of proposals which would, among other things, fire many of the directors and install him as chief executive again.

Mr Benamor had appeared to back off from the company he founded in June after losing a fight to oust several board members.

Only about one in 10 of Amigo's independent shareholders voted with him that time, meaning his 61% stake was not enough to win the day.

Mr Benamor says his actions have been prompted by board members who he claims "mismanaged" Amigo.

Among other issues, the company is facing a battle to slash its thousands-long backlog of complaints from customers.

After missing an original June 26 to clear up its backlog so that complaints are dealt with in eight weeks, Amigo was granted an extension until October 30 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

On Friday the business said it was on track to meet the target.

Finance director Nayan Kisnadwala said: "The whole team at Amigo is focused on addressing our legacy issues and building a sustainable business for the long term.

"Operationally we have turned a corner in our handling of complaints.

"We are on track to meet the agreement reached with the FCA to resolve our complaints backlog and continue to work with the FCA on its ongoing investigation.

"We have adequate liquidity and funding to support our ongoing business activity."
Revenue dropped 31.7% to £48.8 million."

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