A GROUP of Scots unions have demanded government intervention to ensure the nation properly gains from THE offshore windfarm revolution.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has written to the First Minister ahead of their biannual meeting on Thursday calling for increased government intervention to secure direct and supply chain jobs and to ensure more of the profits stay in the country following the announcement of ScotWind leasing project last week.

Seventeen ScotWind projects, with a combined potential generating capacity of 25GW, have been offered new rights to specific areas of the seabed for the development of offshore wind power.

The Herald on Sunday revealed that the nation is set to lose billions in profits every years from the new round of offshore wind projects hailed by the First Minister as a "truly historic" opportunity for Scotland's net zero economy.

There is concern that a failure to create a state-owned energy company which could have sold the new ScotWind electricity to the grid and retained operating profits, has led to concerns that the nation will lose between £3.5 billion and £5.5 billion every year - about a tenth of the current Scottish budget.

READ MORE: ScotWind: Scotland set to lose billions in windfarm profits

The respected think tank Common Weal said it is "arguably the greatest economic failure of the last decade".

The STUC, which has 40 affiliated unions, said that as things stand development over the next decade is set to be dominated by the private sector and overseas companies, but they argue that government has a vital role to play in directly developing capacity, investing in infrastructure and skills and convincing developers to make good on supply chain promises.

It said that ministers should think again about setting up a Scottish National Energy Company, to participate in developing and deploying new offshore wind farms.


The STUC has provided analysis showing that as many as 14,400 jobs could be created with the right interventions in place, but as few as 2,300 if they are not. Critical to this is the creation of a fabrication supply chain.

As a first step, the STUC asks the First Minister to convene a major summit of successful bidders to begin the process of planning for a supply chain revolution in Scotland.

Scotland gains from the Crown Estates Scotland auction of the seabed plots around the Scottish coast, netting a one-off £700m. Its profits are given to the Scottish Treasury or split between some local authorities.

Based on proposed project rents outlined by seabed managers Crown Estates Scotland, it was revealed that the ScotWind projects operating at its full capacity would be estimated to bring Scotland between £50m and £90m each year - a tiny fraction of the billions expected in profits.

While the total impact on the associated supply chain and on the number of jobs created will not be known until later in the process, the First Minister said their estimates suggest as much as £1 billion could be generated for every gigawatt of power. A gigawatt equates to roughly two coal-fired power plants and is enough to power 750,000 homes in Britain.

Some believe the Scottish supply chain spin off is an “overpromise” with current bids currently excluding any firm commitments.

Scottish energy secretary Michael Matheson last week failed to answer whether there would be any specific, binding commitments for winning bidders to deliver investment and jobs in Scotland, after being urged to make sure the benefits are not “squandered”.

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “Rarely has the phrase, ‘we wouldn’t have started from here,’ been more relevant than it is for the ScotWind leasing round. We should not be reliant on overseas private companies to deliver the jobs we need. More profits should be coming to Scotland to be invested in our future.

“However, it is not too late for government to intervene through ownership, investment and conditionality.

“We heard plenty of encouraging noises from corporations in the run up to the ScotWind announcement, now we begin the process of turning those promises into reality.”

The Common Weal think tank says that a lack of manufacturing capacity in Scotland means that supply chain promises may not be forthcoming if companies believe it is cheaper to import material rather than invest in Scotland.

Last year the Herald on Sunday revealed that Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Government's economic development agency faced the loss of up to £4.3m of taxpayers' money through the collapse of offshore wind tower firm CS Wind, the only UK facility for manufacturing onshore and offshore wind towers and seen as a key part of Scotland's green revolution.

Common Weal has long advocated the establishment of a state-owned company which would have owned energy resources, to provide secure, reliable and low-cost retail energy to households and to ensure there were renewable energy supply chain and manufacturing jobs for Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon said in 2017 that the Scottish Government planned to set up a state-owned energy company in Scotland which was due to be established last year but was dropped in September.