The schedule for a cutting-edge offshore wind demonstration scheme off the north east coast has been amended to help secure the development’s future, the project’s backers said today.
Vattenfall and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG), the shareholders in Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd (AOWFL) - the company behind the 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) - now expect to connect the wind farm up to two years after originally scheduled following acceptance of an offer from National Grid, the system operator.
The amendment to the schedule, which was prompted by the project shareholders, allows continued engagement with potential investment partners and takes into account the ongoing onshore planning issues as well as existing legal challenges to the offshore consent.
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Peter Wesslau, the UK Country Manager for Vattenfall and a Director of AOWFL, said: “As with any development of this nature, the project partners continuously review its progress and this includes building in scope for all possible eventualities. As part of this process, the project partners have always been aware that its aspirations to generate first power by late 2015 might not be in step with the progress of the project and indeed, that of the industry.
“Therefore, in the best interests of the project, we have worked to successfully modify the grid connection date. We will also explore opportunities for an earlier grid connection than 2017 in step with the progress of EOWDC, which is recognised by industry as strategically important to accelerating the offshore wind industry across Scotland, the UK and Europe – particularly in the current, challenging economic climate.”
AREG's chief operating officer, Morag McCorkindale, said: "Our in-depth knowledge and experience of the industry continues to reaffirm our belief that the EOWDC is vital and will deliver huge benefits. The potential for the UK's offshore wind industry is phenomenal with an estimated value of £100billion. Lessons learned and skills developed through the EOWDC will also be exportable enabling our companies to win new business across the globe.
"Aberdeen City and Shire, through its global-leading offshore expertise and know-how, is the natural home for the EOWDC. It is therefore imperative that we capitalise on this huge opportunity to help the region diversify its energy-based economy and ensure its future prosperity."
Ron Cookson, Senior Vice President of project consortium partner Technip Offshore Wind, said: “The potential strategic value offered by the EOWDC to the offshore wind industry remains very high and Technip remains committed to supporting its safe and effective delivery.”
In May 2013 Vattenfall and AREG, with the backing of consortium partner Technip Offshore Wind – called for new industry investors in a scheme that will benefit the whole offshore wind sector after the majority shareholder, Vattenfall, said it was unable to invest the majority of the more than £230million capital required to fully deliver the scheme.
In March, 2013, the offshore works of EOWDC was granted planning consent by Scottish Ministers. In October, 2013, Aberdeenshire Council declined planning permission for the onshore substation and associated onshore works – a key element of the EOWDC. In November 2013, the Trump Organisation petitioned the Court of Session in Edinburgh for a Judicial Review of the Scottish Minister’s consent decision. The Court of Session is due to make its ruling in the coming months.