AMBITIOUS plans have been revealed for a floating wind farm to the west of Shetland which their developer said would help to “kick-start” a clean energy project proposed for the isles and bring “significant benefits” to the community.
The £10 billion, 200-turbine plan – which aims to decarbonise oil platforms – would also see a hydrogen plant created at Sullom Voe.
The “huge” offshore turbine units would also need to be serviced in Shetland, potentially bringing a further economic boost.
Green infrastructure developer Cerulean Winds is behind the proposals and an application has been submitted to Marine Scotland for the floating wind farm and hydrogen development.
The company is urging governments to “fast track” the scheme to “safeguard thousands of North Sea jobs and hit climate change targets”.
It says the plans would “abate 20 million tonnes of CO2” at oil projects West of Shetland and in the Central North Sea. The turbines, located in both of these areas, would power offshore oil and gas facilities, and the excess would go towards onshore plants where hydrogen would be generated for use as fuel.
Cerulean Winds is led by entrepreneurs Dan Jackson and Mark Dixon, who have more than 25 years’ experience working together on large-scale offshore infrastructure developments in the oil and gas industry.
The company hope that construction could start in 2022, with energy production commencing in 2024.
According to Cerulean Winds the proposed development involves:
- Over 200 of the largest floating turbines at sites West of Shetland and in the Central North Sea with 3GW of capacity, feeding power to the offshore facilities and excess 1.5GW power to onshore green hydrogen plants.
- Ability to electrify the majority of current UKCS (United Kingdom Continental Shelf) assets as well as future production potential from 2024 to reduce emissions well ahead of abatement targets.
- 100 per cent availability of green power to offshore platforms at a price below current gas turbine generation through a self-sustained scheme with no upfront cost to operators.
- The development of green hydrogen at scale and £1 billion hydrogen export potential.
- No subsidies or CFD requirements and hundreds of millions of pounds to government revenue via leases and taxation through to 2030.
Jackson said he believed the plans would play a “major role” in the proposed ORION project, which aims to help Shetland become an international clean energy hub by 2030 as the sector moves away from fossil fuels.
A key part of ORION is the electrification of oil platforms, which are big polluters. Linked to this is wind energy having the potential to power hydrogen production on an industrial scale in Shetland.
Involved in the project are Shetland Islands Council, the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the University of Strathclyde.
A potential offshore wind farm to the east of Shetland is included in current Scottish Government blueprints for future development in the sector, but there was nothing formally mooted to the west.
“The scheme would bring significant benefits to Shetland – from lower cost energy for local people to job creation,” Jackson said.
“The hydrogen plant would be based at Sullom Voe and would help to kick-start the ORION project. It would produce green energy to provide lower cost energy to the island.
“A big part of this is that a large part of the servicing of these huge turbine units would need to happen in Shetland, so there will be an opportunity to create the infrastructure to enable that with the knock-on effect of thousands of supply chain jobs.
“We have been really impressed with the progressive thinking and leadership being shown in Shetland around the ORION project and believe our development can play a major role in moving it along.”
Shetland Islands Council leader Steven Coutts said: “Clearly the council is open to discussing development plans which show commitment to energy transition and progression towards net zero, and which create opportunities for affordable energy for everyone in Shetland.
“Both Cerulean Wind and the ORION project have common ambitions to develop floating offshore wind, to reduce CO2 by electrification of offshore installations and to produce green hydrogen on Shetland.
“While the SIC is not the consenting authority in relation to this proposal, we do however expect this emerging industry to be planned recognising the needs of our other very important traditional marine industries.”
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