Scotland’s massive potential to become a leading player in offshore energy has been underlined by two major reports this morning. But just as the new developments highlight the benefits they could bring to Scotland they also bring home the need to ensure the predicted boom is used to improve the lives of people who live here.
Forth Ports has today unveiled plans for £40million investment at Leith Docks which the company says could create at least 1000 jobs. It will provide essential infrastructure support for the predicted growth in the number of wind turbines which has been described as rivalling North Sea oil and gas.
And a report from Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University suggests the UK’s offshore workforce could increase from 160,000 to as many as 220,000 by 2030 – most of them involved in delivering low carbon energy.
The Forth Ports project aims to take advantage of the fact that Scotland has a quarter of the potential in wind resources in all of Europe.
It involves the purchase of a large ship berth at Leith docks as part in what it plans to make Scotland's premier offshore energy park. The new berth will allow very large ships to offload long turbine blades and large towers. It will also allow floating turbines to be assembled there. It is understood that sugar silos and dockland buildings are already being demolished at the site.
The Aberdeen coastline features the world’s first floating array of wind turbines and more are under construction from Caithness to Aberdeenshire to Fife
The plan is part of a push by Forth Ports to win the status of ‘greenport’ for the docks, allowing tax free import and export activity.
The Aberdeen coastline features the world’s first floating array of wind turbines and more are under construction from Caithness to Aberdeenshire to Fife. The only large wind farm complete in Scottish waters is Beatrice in the Moray Firth. Scotland is currently on course to expand its offshore wind capability 11-fold before the end of the decade.
But steps need to be taken to avoid a repetition of the waste of North Sea oil and gas income, which saw vast amounts of money disappear into UK treasury reserves. Opportunities such as the setting up of an oil fund similar to the massively successful Norwegian model were squandered. Instead the main beneficiaries were huge oil companies.
The only way to guarantee that the benefits from offshore energy are not once again thrown away by Westminster is to make sure the major decisions on our future are taken by an independent Scotland.
Forth Ports was bought by a Canadian pension fund manager in 2018.The company owns docks at Leith, Grangemouth, Rosyth, Dundee and the smaller Fife ports of Methil and Kirkcaldy, which used to be publicly owned. Now they are owned through Forth Ports by five pension funds which pay dividends to Australian builders, Canadian soldiers and Mounties and English council workers.
There was more good news this morning for Scottish government targets to reduce then cut greenhouse gasses by 2045. A report by experts at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University suggests offshore wind and carbon capture could account for almost two thirds of offshore jobs by 2030.
It says more than 90% of those already working in the oil and gas sector have ‘medium to high skills transferability’, allowing them switch to other parts of the offshore energy sector.
Energy transition offers a unique opportunity to create a net zero energy workforce
The review’s lead author, Professor Paul de Leeuw, said the north-east of Scotland already had much of the skills base and infrastructure for the transition from oil and gas to low carbon energy.
He said: ‘With many of the skills and competencies required for the offshore energy sector to be highly interchangeable, the energy transition offers a unique opportunity to create a net zero energy workforce.’
The Scottish government is committed to cutting greenhouse gases to net zero by 2045, thereby eliminating the country’s contribution to climate change.