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Wind farm bid announced for west of Orkney site

A proposal to build an offshore wind farm to the west of Orkney could see two gigawatts of power be generated, developers say.

A major Scottish consortium has announced a bid for an offshore wind project west of Orkney.

The two-gigawatt proposal – named the West of Orkney Windfarm – has the potential to power more than two million homes and is currently being assessed by the Crown Estate Scotland.

The consortium of Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, TotalEnergies and Scottish developer RIDG, has been engaging with stakeholders in Orkney and Caithness for five years.

This includes Memorandums of Understanding with Orkney Harbour Authority and Scrabster Harbour Trust to enhance port infrastructure and position the area more competitively to support offshore wind projects in the future.

An exclusive Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), formalising a long-standing relationship in technical innovation and environmental data collection, building on EMEC’s unique marine energy research and development facilities and capabilities.

The announcement of this bid comes after the completion of the leasing round of Scotwind, a programme which will lease areas of the seabed around Scotland for wind farm developments.

The Scottish Government hopes that as much as ten gigawatts of new generating capacity will be built over the next decade.

Stephen Kerr, project director of the West of Orkney Windfarm, said: “While ScotWind has created the opportunity for a global industry to tap into Europe’s best wind resource, our consortium believes that success will be driven by targeted proposals built upon strong local relationships.

”We have designed our bid specifically around this location and brought together a unique combination of stakeholders to maximise the opportunities for the region.

“In particular, the upcoming round of offshore wind projects are a terrific opportunity for ports in Caithness and Orkney to win significant long-term contracts in the installation and operational phase of these major infrastructure schemes.

“Our agreements with Scrabster Harbour Trust and Orkney Harbour Authority will enable us to work together with a clear focus on long term delivery. Each port has its own specific capabilities and attributes, and on successful site award we have committed to fund collaborative design and supply studies and to invest where appropriate in improving each harbour’s infrastructure.

“We will apply a similar collaborative approach across the supply chain, working closely with Scottish and UK suppliers to deliver on climate targets and enhance local economies.”

The consortium has undertaken extensive site investigations, including birds, marine mammals and near-shore geophysical surveys, and has finalised a grid connection agreement with National Grid that will enable the project to commence generation in 2029.

Jim Buck, harbourmaster for Orkney Harbour Authority, said that Scapa Flow – the second largest natural harbour in the world – offers an environment like no other and said that the £230million masterplan to develop ports around Orkney is key in attracting new business to the islands.

“Our Masterplan embraces decarbonisation and a transition away from fossil fuels,” said Mr Buck.

“It includes a range of infrastructure enhancements across key locations around the Orkney mainland, including a new deep-water facility in Scapa Flow, which will be crucial to us realising our ambition to deliver social and economic benefit from offshore wind energy.

“The West of Orkney Windfarm is ideally positioned to make significant use of these future facilities and this collaboration represents another key step on our journey to position Orkney as a base for innovation and a major contributor in delivering a carbon-free future for the islands.”