Scale of Scotland’s offshore renewable potential revealed

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  By Bob Duncan

Scotland has two thirds of the UK’s potential wave energy and one third of the potential tidal flow energy, according to a new report from the Crown Estates commission.

The report estimates that wave energy from waters around Scotland could generate 18 gigawatts (GW) compared to 8.7 GW from the waters around England and Wales combined, which demonstrates the scale of opportunity this technology offers to the Scottish economy.

Most of this potential is concentrated on the North West Atlantic coast, which is good news for future employment in the highlands and islands.

In addition, the report estimates that tidal stream and tidal range projects could generate 11 GW and 12.5 GW respectively from Scottish waters.

Previous studies have shown there is also considerable potential for offshore wind. Due to the relative maturity of wind turbine technologies and previous industry experience, offshore wind farms are already being constructed and operated at large-scale.

Agreements for Lease are now in place for ten offshore wind energy projects in Scottish waters. These projects are the forerunners of a pipeline amounting to almost 10GW. The Crown Estate estimates that another 36 GW of potential exists

Today offshore wind power contributes 1.5 per cent of the UK’s electricity supply and that figure will significantly increase in order to achieve the renewable energy 2020 targets.

In the case of Scotland, the national target is to produce 100% of the country’s power requirements from renewable sources by 2020. This is the most ambitious target in the world and the Scottish government is currently ahead of schedule to meet its target.

Overall, Scotland is ideally located to become a major supplier of renewable power to the rest of Europe. With over 25 percent of Europe’s wind resource Scotland has the potential to produce vast amounts of clean, sustainable energy.

Once developed, our massive wind energy capacity of 159 GW and wave/tidal capacity of around 41GW outstrips our own peak requirement of 10.5 GW almost 20 fold.

Commenting, SNP MSP Rob Gibson said:

“What this report makes clear is the scale of the opportunities that exist in the waters around Scotland.

“Wave and tidal energy has the potential to quite literally power economic growth and investment in Scotland in years to come.

“These kinds of projects will bring jobs and investment to coastal communities across Scotland, providing a massive economic boost in many areas.

“Grasping the opportunities that wave and tidal energy offers us is a key part of meeting Scotland’s ambitious target of generating the equivalent of 100% of our electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020.

“The progress that has already been made in Scotland is striking and I am confident that the marine renewables sector will see rapid growth in years to come.”