This summer has been particularly busy for our marine energy team. We’ve been out on site to view the construction of the Beatrice offshore wind farm as well as hosting a visit from Japanese officials and their advisers interested in learning from our experience of assessing and advising on offshore floating wind farms.
Construction of the Beatrice wind farm, approximately 13km off the Caithness coast, is the culmination of 10 years work, from site selection through pre-application discussions, the environmental impact assessment as well as post consent consideration and agreement of construction plans.
The scale of offshore windfarms is significantly larger than those onshore and so can produce greater amounts of energy for use in our homes and by industry. The Beatrice wind farm will produce enough energy to power around 450,000 homes from approximately 588MW. The completion date for full operation is spring 2019 however it’s already producing energy despite still being under construction.
Scotland is leading the way globally in developing floating offshore wind farms. The Japanese Government are interested in floating wind technology because fixed wind development is not feasible due to their deeper waters. In early September our Japanese visitors came to our offices at Battleby to learn about the approaches taken in Scotland for assessing impacts to birds from floating offshore wind farms. Scotland now has two operational sites, one which is fully operational developed by HyWind off Peterhead, and the other slightly closer to shore off Stonehaven called Kincardine. The delegation from Japan included officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, academics from Nagasaki University and the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, as well as environmental consultants.
Over the two days we had presentations from SNH, Marine Scotland, RSPB, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the Kincardine developers. We discussed the importance of Scotland in an international context for breeding seabirds, the methods used to collect data on seabird behaviour and requirements, impact assessment methods including the complex models to predict collision and displacement impacts, as well as the increasing importance of tagging technology to improve our understanding of seabird life cycle requirements including seasonal movements.
Our guests explained that in Japan collection of marine environmental data is only beginning to happen, so they were very grateful to have heard not just about our Scottish perspective, but to compare with what they had heard from visits to the Netherlands and Denmark. What they hadn’t been able to see off the Danish and Dutch coasts were any floating wind turbines so on our second day we’d planned a road trip up the east coast of Scotland to view the HyWind and Kincardine floating turbines as well as the newly operational European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen Bay.
The visit was extremely beneficial and we’ll continue to share knowledge and learning with our Japanese delegates.
We support a planned approach in which offshore wind development is guided towards the locations and technologies that have the least adverse impact on Scotland’s seascapes, species and habitats. For further information on our approach go to: https://www.nature.scot/professional-advice/planning-and-development/renewable-energy-development/types-renewable-technologies/marine-renewables/offshore-wind-energy