SCOTLAND is set for a multi-billion economic boost under plans to dramatically increase the number of offshore windfarms around Britain’s coastline.

Under the plan, one third of all Britain’s electricity will come from offshore wind by 2030 as the UK Government unveils a new deal with the industry as part of its ongoing industrial strategy to kickstart manufacturing.

Offshore wind currently provides around 7% of British power, but that would increase to more than 30% by the end of the next decade, providing 27,000 jobs in the sector.

It would mean that, for the first time in UK history, more electricity is generated by renewables than fossil fuels, with a predicted 70% of power coming from low-carbon sources by 2030.

It is hoped the green power “revolution” will be helped by a new deal between the Government and industry to develop the supply chain and boost global exports.

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ScottishPower will today confirm that as part of a £6bn investment plan it is actively pursuing future offshore wind projects in Scotland to ensure the targets are met.

ScottishPower Chief Executive, Keith Anderson, said: “The Offshore Wind Sector Deal will drive the transformation of offshore wind generation, increasing the amount of low-cost, low-carbon generation for the UK and proves that the idea utilities still need to rely on coal and gas is outdated.

“ScottishPower is proof that offshore wind works, we’ve worked tirelessly to bring down costs and, having transitioned to 100% renewable energy, will be building more windfarms to help the UK shift to a clearer electric economy. Two of our offshore windfarms in the East Anglia will replace all of the old thermal generation we’ve sold and we are ready to invest more by actively pursuing future offshore projects both north and south of the border.

“We have a fantastic supply chain already in place in the UK, from businesses in and around East Anglia to across England, across Scotland as well as Northern Ireland.

“The Sector Deal will attract even more businesses in the UK to join the offshore wind supply chain and we are excited to see the transformative impact this will have on our projects”.

Under the deal being unveiled today, the sector’s target for the share of UK-based production for offshore wind projects will increase to 60% which will provide a huge boost for fabrication yards such as Arnish in Stornoway, BiFab in Fife, Nigg in Sutherland and Kishorn in Wester Ross.

This commitment is aimed at ensuring the £557 million pledged by the UK Government for future clean power auctions benefit local communities around the country.

The energy industry has also pledged to invest £250 million in measures including making sure British companies are competitive and world-leaders in areas such as robotics and floating wind and larger turbines.

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A partnership between Government and industry will support smaller supply chain companies to export for the first time, to help boost global exports to areas including Europe, Japan, and the United States five-fold to £2.6 billion a year by 2030.

Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, Benj Sykes, said: “Now that we’ve sealed this transformative deal with our partners in government, as a key part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, offshore wind is set to take its place at the heart of our low-carbon, affordable and reliable electricity system of the future.

“This relentlessly innovative sector is revitalising parts of the country which have never seen opportunities like this for years, especially coastal communities from Wick in the northern Scotland to the Isle of Wight, and from Barrow-in-Furness to the Humber.

“Companies are burgeoning in clusters, creating new centres of excellence in this clean growth boom. The Sector Deal will ensure that even more of these companies win work not only on here, but around the world in a global offshore wind market set to be worth £30bn a year by 2030”.

Fabrice Leveque, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “This sector deal is a major milestone for the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, setting a clear path for offshore wind: one of ambition, optimism and innovation.

“That’s particularly true in Scotland, where the sector is building out again after delays which meant schemes in shallower waters further south powered ahead.

“The benefits that are being realised in places like Hull and Lowestoft are now starting to appear in Scotland’s coastal towns and cities like Wick and Invergordon, heralding a new, sustainable energy future from the seas.

“With the support of government both at Westminster and in Edinburgh we, as an industry, can work together, as set out in this sector deal, to help ensure offshore wind’s benefits are felt across the country for decades to come.”

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Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “This new sector deal will drive a surge in the clean, green offshore wind revolution that is powering homes and businesses across the UK, bringing investment into coastal communities and ensuring we maintain our position as global leaders in this growing sector.

“By 2030 a third of our electricity will come from offshore wind, generating thousands of high-quality jobs across the UK, a strong UK supply chain and a five-fold increase in exports.”

Energy UK’s chief executive, Lawrence Slade, said: “Today’s sector deal, and continued investment from industry, will create a global offshore wind market set to be worth £30 billion a year by 2030 and further cement the UK’s position as a world-leader in offshore wind.

“The offshore wind industry has been a great success story for the UK, bringing thousands of skilled jobs and billions in investment while delivering clean energy at an ever-falling cost to customers.”

Industry-body RenewableUK said the deal was about creating opportunities for the people who would be part of the 27,000 workforce.

“We’re setting up a new body to develop the right skills for years to come, not only by offering apprenticeships, but also by helping experienced people from other parts of the energy sector, as well as the military, to make the change into offshore wind.

“We also want to ensure far more diversity in the industry, by reaching a target of at least 33% women employees by 2030, and by recruiting people from a wider variety of ethnic backgrounds”.

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But Greenpeace said that renewables needed to be scaled up even more.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “The Government’s plans for a fleet of new nuclear reactors has collapsed. This leaves Britain with a big energy gap in the future. It means the Government’s latest offshore wind target of 30 gigawatts by 2030 is woefully inadequate.

“Renewable power now presents the best opportunity for cheaper, cleaner and faster decarbonisation.

“Wind and solar must be tripled between now and 2030, with offshore wind the future backbone of the UK’s energy system.”

Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Offshore wind has a key role to play in achieving our ambitious energy targets and delivering a low-carbon energy system.

“Scotland has massive offshore wind potential with a large share of Europe’s offshore wind resources and the commitment that the sector deal represents from government, academia and industry will help ensure that our world-leading offshore wind sector develops successfully and sustainably.”