New Islay offshore windfarm could power every home in Scotland

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ScottishPower has won the seabed rights to develop its first offshore windfarm in Scottish waters, off the west coast of Islay, that could power almost every home in Scotland.

On Monday the Crown Estates’ ScotWind Leasing programme, which leases areas of the seabed around Scotland for wind farm developments, awarded rights to 17 renewable projects which will cover over 7,000km2 of Scottish waters, and bring £700m in option fees to the Scottish Government for public spending.

‘This is just the first stage of the long process these projects will have to go through before we see turbines going into the water, as the projects evolve through consenting, financing, and planning stages,’ the Crown Estates said.

Announcing its successful bid for an Islay offshore windfarm, ScottishPower said: ‘The 2GW MachairWind project will make a significant contribution to tackling the climate emergency and achieving net zero,’ the Galsgow-based energy company said, ‘with the potential to generate enough clean electricity to power more than 2.3 million homes – almost every home in Scotland.’

Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower, said: ‘Offshore wind is set to become the backbone of the UK’s energy mix and will do the heavy lifting as we ramp up the production of clean electricity on the journey to net zero.

‘Our Islay project will play an important part in that and make the best use of the region’s fantastic natural resources to help power the UK’s transition from fossil fuels to renewables and a better future, quicker.

‘It will also help deliver investment, support jobs and boost supply chains – opening up immense opportunities for businesses and institutions across the region and the country – who can register their interest on our online portal now.’

As well as the Islay project, ScottishPower – in partnership with Shell – has been awarded the seabed rights to develop two floating windfarms off the east and north-east coasts of Scotland. At 2GW and 3GW respectively, these will be among the first large-scale floating windfarms in the world.

George Dean, director of Islay Energy Trust Ltd, said: ‘The development of a major offshore wind farm to the north-west of Islay opens up the prospect to deliver significant benefits to the islands of Islay, Jura and Colonsay.

‘Our electricity supply has been constrained and subject to occasional undersea cable failures, and we are over-reliant on the importation of fossil fuels. With this project, we can seek opportunities to decarbonise our islands. Having worked closely with ScottishPower in the past, we are both very familiar with what it takes to engage with the community, and ensure an open and positive relationship.’