Plans to build a £20 billion network of hundreds of floating wind turbines to power North Sea oil and gas platforms have been unveiled by one of the biggest winners in Crown Estate Scotland's recent offshore leasing round.

Green energy infrastructure developer Cerulean Winds says construction of its North Sea Renewables Grid (NSRG) will create 10,000 jobs, with first power ready in 2028. Located in the Central North Sea, the integrated generation and transmission system will power fossil fuel platforms throughout the basin, allowing operators to get rid of gas and diesel generators.

Cerulean and its partner, Frontier Power International, will develop three sites of more than 330 square kilometres each in what is being billed as one of the country's largest infrastructure projects. Other partners in the delivery consortium include NOV, Siemens Gamesa, Siemens Energy, DEME and Worley.

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Phase one of the NSRG will focus on supporting oil and gas operators with their brownfield modifications. Future phases will introduce the export of green power to the southern UK and Europe.

The Herald:

Details of the plans follow the award in March of 13 options totalling 5.5GW through the Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) leasing round held by Crown Estate Scotland, the public corporation that manages land and property owned by the monarch. Cerulean secured lease options for three 1GW sites under the Targeted Oil & Gas (TOG) stream of the development rights round.

“The oil and gas sector is wrestling with the challenges of meeting the North Sea Transition Deal emissions reduction targets whilst supporting UK energy security," Cerulean founding director Dan Jackson said. "We recognise that to achieve meaningful reductions at the pace required, a reliable basin-wide approach is needed that they can plug into when they are ready to for affordable power.

READ MORE: ScotWind: Scotland faces loss of £60bn in new offshore wind farms

“Early oil and gas electrification supports the country’s energy security, net zero action and delivers huge benefits to the supply chain and economy, creating 10,000 jobs. With our partners we will accelerate access to green power and provide the infrastructure for the next phase of the North Sea’s life.”

Each windfarm will be located within 100 kilometres of the others and will be connected together to form an offshore ring around the Central North Sea, with High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) transmission maximising generation uptime. Humza Malik, founding partner of Frontier Power, said the scale will allow offtake to other parts of the North Sea through a new High Voltage Direct Current (HDVC) network.

"For the oil and gas companies, this diversity of offtake provides robustness to the scheme and added flexibility," Mr Malik said. "For Scotland, the HVDC transmission not only provides clean energy to the National Grid, but provides export of power directly to continental Europe.”

The project is being privately financed through a special purpose vehicle, with Cerulean estimating that the three windfarms will contribute more than £12bn in GVA to the UK economy. The partners are currently in discussions with suppliers on the manufacturing of the tri-floater turbine design that will be used.

READ MORE: What should be done with ScotWind’s £700 million?

Mr Jackson said work with oil and gas operators has also begun "in earnest" in a bid to make first power available by 2028.

 “We are targeting a build out before ScotWind developments, allowing the supply chain to respond, creating crucial partnering opportunities for the ports and getting the market ready to deliver floating wind at scale," he added.

"It will make a material impact on Scotland’s emissions, removing millions of tonnes of CO2 a year to support a just transition. Basin-wide scale gives greater flexibility, lower pricing and supply robustness.”