ITALIAN oil giant Eni is set to enter the bidding for windfarm acreage off Scotland as deadline day approaches in a licensing round that has generated huge interest around the world.

The Rome-based major said it has teamed up with a Chinese-owned windfarm specialist, Red Rock Power, as they prepare to make a joint bid in the ScotWind leasing round.

The announcement will stoke excitement about the potential for ScotWind to pave the way for huge investment off Scotland and to generate big sums for the government.

With the July 16 deadline for applications looming, the indications are that the round may fulfil the high expectations of officials about what it could achieve.

READ MORE: International emergy and finance giants to bid for ScotWind licences

Eni’s decision to bid in the round provides the latest sign that oil and gas giants are jockeying for position in the emerging offshore windfarm market off the UK, as they aim to show they can play a valuable part in the drive to reduce emissions.

HeraldScotland: Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi Picture: EniEni chief executive Claudio Descalzi Picture: Eni

Others have said already that they plan to participate in ScotWind.

BP aims to repeat the success it enjoyed in the latest UK licensing round, in which it bid successfully with Germany’s Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg (EnBW).

France’s TotalEnergies said last month that it would bid for ScotWind licences with Australian investment bank Macquarie.

Norwegian giant Equinor has said it will participate in the round.

Shell declined to comment yesterday when asked if it intended to bid for licences.

ScotWind is the first offshore wind leasing round to cover acreage off the country for a decade. It was extended in February after an auction of licences off England, Wales and Northern Ireland drew a strong response.

READ MORE: ScotWind aims to unlock £8bn windfarm investment

When ScotWind was launched in June last year Crown Estate Scotland held out the prospect that around 10 windfarms could be developed on the acreage concerned. It suggested the round could unlock as much as £8bn investment, which could provide a badly-needed boost for the supply chain in Scotland.

Work on windfarms off Scotland has yet to generate benefits on the scale expected for firms in the country or jobs in the numbers hoped for.

North Sea industry leaders hope work on renewables projects could provide an important source of income for oil services firms. May have been hit hard by the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Eni and Red Rock Power tried to play up the potential for their involvement to help deliver the boost to renewables capacity expected and to help ministers to achieve wider policy objectives in the process.

Red Rock Power chief executive Guy Magwick said: “Eni brings a wealth of offshore expertise from the oil and gas sector that offers significant value in potential projects.”

He added: “We recognise the vast potential in collaborating with an energy company like Eni to deliver net zero targets in the North Sea and see this as an opportunity to further champion the transition of its skilled workforce into renewables.”

READ MORE: Can renewables jobs make up for Scottish oil decline?

Eni said it was confident the collaboration will help the company to achieve its renewables targets, as well as contributing to the development of Scotland’s role in the decarbonisation of the North Sea. It noted: “The success of ScotWind will be crucial for developing the local industry in this sector and for positioning new technologies in a growing global market.”

Red Rock Power is owned by Beijing-based SDIC Power Holdings. It has a 25% stake in the Beatrice windfarm off Caithness.

Beatrice was developed by Scottish Hydroelectric owner SSE, which plans to bid in the ScotWind round with Japanese industrial giant Marubeni and the Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners investment firm.

READ MORE: Windfarm boost off Scotland must not be at expense of consumers

Last week Danish renewables giant Ørsted confirmed that it planned to enter ScotWind.

In December Eni clinched a £405 million deal to enter the UK offshore windfarm market, through the acquisition of a 20 per cent stake in the giant Dogger Bank project off Yorkshire through deals with SSE and Norway’s Equinor in December. Eni said then that the Northern Europe offshore wind market was one of the most promising and stable in the world.

Eni and Red Rock Power said they would make a joint ScotWind bid with the support of London-based transmission company, Transmission Investment.