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Energy / Fishing industry feels the squeeze but more offshore wind likely

Image: Crown Estate Scotland

THE LOCAL fishing industry is breathing a sigh of relief after no offshore wind farm projects as part of the INTOG licensing round came forward for designated areas around Shetland.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) said the isles’ rich fishing grounds were already under pressure enough as a result of “unchecked expansion of offshore wind”.

Earlier this week, Crown Estate Scotland announced 13 successful applicants for projects intended to cut carbon emissions of offshore oil and gas production facilities with the help of renewable energy, but they are largely all located in the waters east of Aberdeen.

London based Cerulean Winds had floated the idea of building large offshore wind farms to the west and north of Shetland but ended up never bidding for one of the seven designated areas around the isles.

Instead, Cerulean was successful in securing three so-called exclusivity agreements for wind farms totalling just over three gigawatts in capacity. These could, however, still potentially provide power to oil and gas assets off Shetland.

Meanwhile, the manager of the ORION clean energy project, Gunther Newcombe, said he was not surprised that no projects to east and west of Shetland had come forward.

Orion project manager Gunther Newcombe Photo: Shetland News

That, however, could change should further talks with the new Scottish Government come to fruition.

“The fields to the east of Shetland are all mature and coming to the end of their lives, and to the west of Shetland the new developments weren’t ready for offshore wind,” the former oil industry executive said.

He said the INTOG (Innovation and Targeted Oil & Gas) licensing round had 5.5GW of capacity and thus had almost achieved its target of 5.7 GW.

Speaking from Berlin where he attended a net zero conference, Newcombe added: “WhatOrion intends to do is to discuss with the Scottish Government, Crown Estate Scotland and Marine Scotland the potential for realising offshore wind.

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“Our ambition is to get another 30GW+ of offshore wind to turn the Sullom Voe region into a renewable energy hub, exporting hydrogen and hydrogen derived products.”

Last month EnQuest, the operator of the Sullom Voe Terminal, confirmed it had plans to produce one million tonnes of green hydrogen from the site in the future.

Newcombe added: “Any work that is being done will be done in co-operation with other users of the sea such as the fishermen.”

SFA executive officer Daniel Lawson.

But the SFA’s executive officer Daniel Lawson pointed out that Shetland already had three large offshore wind developments being planned through the Scottish Government’s separate ScotWind process.

“When it comes to reducing carbon emissions from offshore oil and gas production, we’ve seen simpler and more sensible suggestions from energy companies – who have stated a preference to be powered by cable from Shetland’s multiple onshore renewable energy projects,” he said.

And Lawson warned that the approved projects to the east of Aberdeen would close around 1,600 square kilometres of sea and would subsequently have consequences for the isles’ fishing fleet through the displacement of other vessels.

“Fish has among the lowest carbon footprints of any foodstuff, so Shetland’s fishing fleet should be protected – and not forced any further from its traditional grounds,” he said.

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