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Scottish Floating Offshore Wind Port Cluster could deliver £1.5bn boost

19 August 2021

A new independent report commissioned from the Scottish Government and offshore wind industry and led by Professor Sir Jim McDonald has today set out a series of five recommendations to transform how Scottish companies secure work in offshore wind.

The independent Strategic Investment Assessment (SIA) report was commissioned by the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council, an industry-government group co-chaired by Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee MSP and industry leader Brian McFarlane of SSE Renewables.

The report’s five main recommendations are:

  1. The offshore wind sector’s priority must be the establishment of a collaboration framework focused on building confidence amongst Scottish ports, so that required investment is brought forward in time. The immediate priority of such a collaborative framework is supporting the creation of a Scottish Floating Offshore Wind Port Cluster
  2. Support Scottish suppliers and get them ready to bid for and win work
  3. Celebrate and sell Scottish success
  4. Plan for future growth and the next generation of innovations
  5. Plan for energy transition and a future of far-from-shore, mixed-use energy projects

The SIA recommends a focus on bringing the manufacture of floating offshore wind platforms to Scotland through creation of a Scottish Floating Offshore Wind Port Cluster, with ports acting in partnership to provide the required infrastructure area and capability needed to attract manufacturers to use Scottish ports and invest in Scotland.

It highlights a low-regret option to invest in an additional 22 hectares of port capacity suitable for offshore wind platform fabrication that could deliver £1.5 billion in economic benefit to Scotland. This initial investment could help underpin longer term growth in port space, and further investment in port capacity could grow this to £4.5 billion.

To help ports invest so they are ready to support projects coming out of the current ScotWind leasing round run by Crown Estate Scotland, a new partnership approach will be needed. Industry needs to learn from sectors like oil and gas and develop a collaborative framework that can make explicit the expected industry needs. The Scottish and UK Governments need to help prime early investment to build world class port facilities.

The SIA also identifies Scottish subsea engineering companies as a priority group well suited to offshore wind, and sets out a range of actions needed to help them better engage with and win work from top tier offshore wind companies.

Offshore wind is a major economic opportunity for Scotland. Scottish projects installed between today and 2027 may produce a total lifetime spend of £18.8 billion, resulting in an average of 1,900 direct jobs per year during construction and 1,100 jobs per year during 25-30 years of operations. The forthcoming ScotWind leasing round could create 5,000 jobs per year during construction and 2,800 jobs per year during 25-30 years of operations, with total Scottish jobs peaking at 6,000 in 2032/33.

 The report makes clear that Scotland needs to prioritise effort to grow the economic value retained in Scotland. Each additional 1% in Scottish content secured from ScotWind projects can deliver an additional 6,400 FTE employment years for Scotland.

The independent report lead, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, said: “Scotland is a leader in climate action as well as in low carbon technology, research and innovation with a commitment to a just energy transition. Scotland will be one of the first countries in the world looking to deliver floating offshore wind at scale. If Scottish companies are involved in this first generation of floating offshore wind projects, then they will be in a position to sell this expertise around the world.

“However, winning this opportunity will need collective effort and determination. Scottish Ministers and industry leaders must clearly understand and provide the level of commitment and action needed and create the opportunity to forge an effective partnership if we are to grow Scottish success.

Net Zero and Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The offshore wind sector has a vital role to play in decarbonising our energy system and ensuring we become a net-zero economy by 2045.

“With a pipeline of new projects set to be provided by the first cycle of ScotWind leasing, the Scottish Government committed to setting out this Strategic Investment Assessment within our first 100 Days of Government as we seek to better support the offshore wind supply chain and create further good, green jobs as we deliver a just transition to net zero.

“I am grateful to Prof Sir Jim McDonald and his team for delivering the report, which sets out a clear path of the steps we must take to seize the economic opportunity this presents for Scotland. With COP26 in Glasgow approaching, this is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the action we are taking on renewable energy and I look forward to continuing to engage with SOWEC as they take forward delivery of the recommendations.”

SOWEC industry co-chair Brian McFarlane said: ““SOWEC welcomes this important report and the clear priorities it sets for action. The report rightly points out that action is needed before the end of 2021 so that when the next generation of projects emerges from the ScotWind leasing round, Scotland is properly organised to secure work from this pipeline”.

Jonathan Cole, Offshore Managing Director of Iberdrola Renewables and a member of the SIA Executive Committee, said: “Scotland is the windiest country in Europe, with the biggest and most experienced offshore sector and supply chain, so we’re perfectly placed to create a new floating offshore industry that supports the energy transition and leaves no one behind – people, businesses, communities. Today’s report sets out the strategic framework for ensuring we can reap the benefits of that throughout the supply chain and across the country. With just over ten weeks until COP26 gets underway on our doorstep, we need to embrace the collective drive and determination of the Scottish offshore wind industry to make that happen and ensure we can all enjoy a better future, quicker.”

Jim Smith, Managing Director of SSE Renewables and a member of the SIA Executive Committee, said: “This is a significant report coming at a vital time as Scotland accelerates its drive towards net zero. Offshore wind will play a critical role in powering that drive, which is why the capability and commitments of developers to deliver on Scotland’s ambitions of securing 10GW of new offshore wind energy under ScotWind is critical. As important is the ability of industry and government to collaborate to create the investment environment that allows Scotland’s supply chain, including our ports, to capitalise on the opportunities. SOWEC’s report highlights the crucial steps that are rapidly needed so that the Scottish supply chain can successfully secure high value contracts from the next round of new offshore wind projects.”

Audrey MacIver, Head of Energy and Net Zero at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said “This independent report is a huge vote of confidence in our region and in Scotland’s green future. HIE has strongly supported the development of the renewable energy sector for many years now, including investing around £67m over the past decade in world-class ports and harbours infrastructure.
As a result, our combination of natural and built assets, along with a highly skilled workforce and supply chain, place the Highlands and Islands in a strong competitive position to help tackle the climate crisis and deliver substantial economic benefits. The wealth of green energy sources across our region, including offshore wind, already play a key role in meeting Scotland’s energy needs and will be vital in transitioning to a net zero economy in the coming years.”

Head of low carbon transition at Scottish Enterprise Andy McDonald said: “I welcome this report that clearly sets out areas of opportunity for Scotland’s offshore wind sector in developing the supply chain and securing future work. The collaborative approach will help Scotland seize opportunities and build on assets, from port infrastructure, to technical talent, and networks, to ensure we lead the way in offshore wind and wider energy transition. Not only that, but an industry led Scottish Floating Offshore Wind Port Cluster, with ports acting in partnership, will also provide a clear path for investment in Scotland that will be important as we host COP26 in a matter of months and show the world Scottish capability in offshore wind expertise.”

Andrew Jamieson, Chief Executive of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, said, “Collaborative investment in Scottish infrastructure is vital to seizing the opportunity presented by floating offshore wind and establishing a world leading industry and supply chain here in Scotland. It will provide opportunity for our innovative SME’s and companies transitioning into renewables from oil and gas and other industries and lead to long-term, sustainable value in terms of Scottish jobs and economic growth”.

Colin Maciver, Senior Development Manager at Crown Estate Scotland, said: “Through the development of ScotWind Leasing we know that there is a huge interest from developers hoping for the chance to build Scotland’s next generation of offshore wind farms, and we also know that the development of Scotland’s port infrastructure is a key part of unlocking the economic potential that this can bring to Scottish communities. This report aligns with our efforts to ensure ScotWind applicants engage with their potential supply chain at an early stage through the Supply Chain Development Statement element of their applications, and highlights the type of cross sector collaboration that will be needed over the coming years to make sure Scotland is making the most of the opportunity that ScotWind is set to deliver”.

Dan McGrail, Chief Executive of RenewableUK, said: “This landmark report highlights the enormous scale of the economic and industrial opportunity that floating wind offers to Scotland. Manufacturing massive floating offshore wind platforms, cables and towers in revitalised Scottish ports would create tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs and attract billions in investment in new supply chains. The actions for Government and industry set out in the report provide a clear blueprint to enable Scotland to seize the advantage right now and take the vital steps needed to become a global leader in this innovative technology”.  

Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables said: “This new report sets a welcome challenge to the renewables industry and Government to deliver a major green industrial expansion for Scotland.

“We will soon be leasing the largest area of seabed anywhere in the world for floating wind development, and combining this with the existing expertise of our offshore supply chain will be a winning combination if we truly collaborate and invest strategically.

“As the spotlight turns on Scotland later this year for COP26, I hope a Scottish Floating Wind Port Cluster will help to signal our global ambition to deliver net zero technology both at home and around the world.”

Editors Notes

  1. Professor Sir Jim McDonald has been Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde since 2009. He holds a Bachelor Degree, Masters and Doctorate in engineering, specialising in electrical engineering, power systems and energy economics. He is President of the Royal Academy of Engineering; is co-chair of the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board along with the First Minister and he is Chairman of the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics and the Energy Institute.
  2. The Independent SIA was commissioned by the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council and was led by an Executive Committee chaired by Professor Sir Jim McDonald of Strathclyde University. The SIA also benefited from an industry-government Working Group which coordinated wider consultation and reviewed an evidence base commissioned from ORE Catapult on the economic opportunities around offshore wind.
  3. This assessment is published in line with the commitment of the Scottish Government to “set out a Strategic Investment Assessment, as we seek to better support the offshore wind supply chain.” That commitment formed part of the Scottish Government’s Priorities of Government statement given by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 May 2021.
  4. The SIA report lead author was industry expert Maf Smith, who was supported by Joss Blamire of ITPEnergised, with economic analysis provided by Tom Quinn and Gavin Smart of ORE Catapult.
  5. For more information on offshore wind in Scotland and SOWEC go to and to download a copy of the report use the following link - SOWEC Scottish Offshore Wind Strategic Investment Assessment report 
  6. For more information on this press release and the SIA report please contact Maf Smith, SIA Working Group lead on / 07768 531501 or Nick Sharpe, Scottish Renewables Director of Communications on / 07941 593 951