ScotWind the brave: big hitters queue up to put Scotland in offshore wind’s global vanguard is ReCharge’s overview of the ScotWind tender round, following its closure on the 16 July. The article features extensively the views of Neil Douglas. Neil’s contribution includes:
Neil Douglas, a director at renewables consultancy BVG Associates, tells Recharge it should be remembered that ScotWind, which has been in the works since 2016, was not always seen as a guaranteed draw, with questions over whether projects there could be competitive in the wider UK context.
“Looking back a few years when ScotWind was first announced, some people questioned the extent to which it would be subscribed, because in Scotland you have deeper water, higher grid charges, there’s not so much development of the supply chain.”
Now with so many big-hitters and innovative pioneers in the mix, Douglas says: “The competition is going to be intense. I expect Crown Estate Scotland have got quite a job on their hands to determine who the winners are, especially because it’s not a price auction – the whole process has been set up around experience and delivery.
“The way the scoring works it may be very, very fine margins between winners and losers.”
“This is the first time that significant real estate has been made available for floating projects,” Douglas says.
“Production for serial floating foundations is a big opportunity, many people are looking at that very seriously, both fabrication and installation techniques that have the potential to bring significant local content – and that’s a big deal for Scotland,” says Douglas.
Douglas believes the late change won’t have a drastic impact on ScotWind. “The implications are that those costs have to be absorbed by the project, and they have an impact on the signature levelised cost of energy of the projects.
“But if everyone is bidding at the cap and everyone is moving up by the same amount, it doesn’t impact competitiveness [in a Scottish context].”
“There are hopes that the Scottish supply chain will benefit, there are ports and facilities that are able to respond,” says Douglas.
“What remains to be seen is to what extent the Scottish supply chain is able to compete internationally on price and capability.
“But the advantage here is that floating is new – nobody has experience of producing dozens or hundreds of hulls, everybody’s in the starting blocks from that point of view.”
A good proportion of the projects spawned by ScotWind may not end up relying on UK CfDs, Douglas believes, pointing to opportunities in the merchant market and for feeding new opportunities in areas such as green hydrogen production.
Douglas reckons that with such fine margins at play in such a competitive process, the best-prepared may end up with rewards.
“If you look at how the competition is run, so many points are awarded on experience and readiness. I do wonder if there’s going to be an advantage to those developers who have already put their hands in their pockets and done a bunch of early work, people have been speculatively doing survey work and doing stakeholder engagement to get ahead of the game.
“I’d imagine they would be at an advantage to those coming from a standing start.”
Douglas added: “To what extent have they secured grid connection capacity and been derisking their consenting by doing bird surveys? You don’t need a site licence to do a bird survey.”