20 November 2018

S5M-14466 Offshore Wind Week 2018

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Christine Grahame): The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-14466, in the name of Lewis Macdonald, on offshore wind week 2018.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament recognises the contribution that Scotland has made to offshore wind since planning permission was granted in 2003 for the development of Scotland’s first offshore wind farm, Robin Rigg, in the Solway Firth; considers that Scotland has benefited from many other offshore wind projects in recent years, including Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen Bay, which has been built with the support of EU funding to create and test new offshore wind technologies, Hywind Scotland, a floating wind farm developed by Equinor off Peterhead, which started power generation in October 2017, and the Kincardine Offshore Floating Wind Farm off the coast of Stonehaven, which is expected to be the largest floating wind farm in the world when it is completed in 2020; understands that the contributions made by these and other projects will be recognised and celebrated during Offshore Wind Week 2018, which runs from 19 to 23 November and is an annual event supported by Scottish Renewables; notes the hope that a pipeline of successful projects can be secured in future leasing rounds by ensuring an adequate provision of shallow and deep water sites; further notes the view that government at all levels needs to support the offshore wind sector to ensure that its success continues, particularly beyond 2030, and looks forward to more offshore wind farms being developed in the coming years, contributing to Scotland’s energy mix.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I start by declaring that I am a shareholder in SSE and in the Boyndie Wind Farm Co-op, which is a wind farm close to where I stay.

This is an excellent opportunity—thanks to Lewis Macdonald—to celebrate offshore wind week 2018 and the contribution that offshore wind makes to our economy, employment in local communities and of course the climate change agenda. It was only a couple of years ago that the then President of the French Republic, François Hollande, offered his plea that we work together against climate change:

“The time is past when humankind thought it could selfishly draw on exhaustible resources. We know now the world is not a commodity”.

With Scotland, as we have heard, being the windiest place in Europe, we have something that shows no sign of being an exhaustible resource. The development of offshore wind has been a terrific contribution to the climate change agenda.

I have two wind farms near where I stay. I only have to go a few hundred metres to the east and at night I can look out over the Moray Firth and see the Beatrice wind turbines that were put up as the first offshore wind trial in the area. More significant, though, is the Hywind Scotland offshore development, floating off Peterhead, which has been referred to by a number of members and in the motion. The development is truly groundbreaking, water-breaking technology, and it opens the door to deployment of that technology in shallow coastal areas around the world.

Offshore wind is not particularly new. There has been a wind farm next to the Øresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden for a considerable period. However, the Hywind technology and the technologies that we are seeing developed off our coasts are much higher capacity and have much higher outputs, partly because of developments in China and the use of rare earths in new magnets to increase what can come from ahead.

In the past couple of weeks, I visited a firm in Peterhead called Survitec, which is one of many firms that are developing new technologies. Flashover fires can happen in a matter of seconds, so Survitec has developed a rapid-escape technology for people who are at the top of a wind turbine. I wish the company extremely well—it certainly deserves to get wide market acceptance. However, it will not be alone in exploiting the opportunities that come from having such sources of offshore wind close to some of our communities. Service vessels will go out to service them, and a number of the harbours in my constituency—Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Buckie—look forward to opportunities to service wind farms. I understand that in Caithness, Wick will look to get its share of the business. We will see how that develops, because healthy competition between harbours is not at all a bad thing.

The First Minister visited the Hywind wind farm pilot project, which underlines the potential of Scotland’s huge offshore wind resource. Right at the top of Government it is recognised how important offshore wind is. I wish it well and repeat my thanks to Lewis Macdonald for providing the opportunity to congratulate everyone who is involved in offshore wind and, more to the point, those who will be in the future.


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