Brian Wilson: Having re-branded as Crown Estate Scotland, complete with Gaelic sub-title, an organisation which attracted much opprobrium in the past – not least from myself – seems to have recognised the potential of the marine role that history has bequeathed it. As guardians of the seabed out to a distance of 200 nautical miles, the Crown Estate has a big part to play in the future of offshore wind. Last month, it published a discussion paper on “new offshore wind leasing for Scotland” which envisages projects being built in the late 2020s and beyond. For once, the UK and Scottish Governments seem to be on the same page. UK Energy Minister Claire Perry saw “the opening up of more seabed areas for new offshore wind projects as another step towards achieving our low cost, low carbon future” in line with the government’s modern Industrial Strategy. The extent to which all this will happen depends on a whole host of factors. However, by inviting developers to identify sites with commercial potential, both inshore and in the ocean beyond, the Crown Estate is taking a long-term view which should forestall one area of doubt, well in advance of anything actually happening. Wind technology and associated developments like battery storage are moving so fast that projects which still seem implausible today may well come to fruition in 20 years’ time. That will not be for the Crown Estate to decide but at least they are behaving as pro-active facilitators rather than absentee sea-lords, which tended to be their role in the past. The hopeful signal for the Scottish economy, inherent in the Crown Estate’s optimistic approach, is that there might still be potential for a renewables manufacturing industry worthy of the name. So far, Scotland’s failure to build an industry round renewables generation has been lamentable. But let’s hope it is not too late.
Energy Voice 8th June 2018 read more »