Weekly News Review - 20th October 2023

Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm now fully operational

The Seagreen offshore wind farm in Scotland is now operating at full capacity following confirmation from developers SSE Renewables and TotalEnergies. The project consists of 114 turbines with a total capacity of 1,075MW making it the largest offshore wind farm in Scotland.

Seagreen is situated 27km off the Angus coast in the North Sea’s Firth of Forth. With its deepest foundation installed at a record 58.7m below sea level it is also the world’s deepest fixed-bottom offshore wind farm. The wind farm is capable of generating enough renewable electricity to power almost 1.6 million homes annually, equivalent to two-thirds of all homes in Scotland.

Seagreen was first awarded exclusive development rights by Crown Estate Scotland in 2010. The project was consented for development by Scottish Government Ministers in 2014 with construction beginning in June 2020. The first turbine was installed in December 2021 and first power was achieved in August 2022 ahead of the installation of the final turbine at the site earlier this summer.

Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s First Minister, said: “The Seagreen offshore windfarm is a fantastic example of the work being done to unleash Scotland’s renewable potential, as we seek to lead the world in the transition to net zero. This significant milestone for Seagreen is also significant for Scotland, taking us a step closer to creating a net zero energy system that delivers affordable, secure and clean energy.”

Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Renewables, said: “This is a landmark moment for offshore wind in Scotland and for the global offshore wind industry. The Seagreen project has pushed new boundaries through its use of innovative suction caisson technology which has allowed our project team to set new records through the installation of the world’s deepest fixed-bottom foundations at the site.”

“This makes Seagreen a pioneer for future developments in deeper waters so they can be built faster and more efficiently, accelerating the clean energy transition. We’re now looking forward to the next 25-plus years as SSE Renewables takes on operational responsibilities for Seagreen, ensuring it plays a key role in the energy transition and the delivery of secure, home-grown clean and green energy to Scottish and UK customers.”

Greenpeace loses legal challenge to UK’s new North Sea oil and gas licences

London’s High Court has dismissed a legal challenge by Greenpeace and ruled that the UK’s decision to authorise new licences for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea was lawful. The environmental campaign group had argued that the government’s offshore energy plan was unlawful as it failed to include downstream emissions – the greenhouse gases produced by consuming oil and gas.

But at a hearing in July lawyers representing the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) said that while they considered them, ministers were not required to assess end-use emissions. Judge David Holgate rejected Greenpeace’s case on Thursday, saying in a written ruling that the decision not to assess end-use emissions was not irrational.

Greenpeace have announced that they are planning to appeal the decision. Philip Evans, a climate campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “If you told most people that the government is allowed to approve new oil and gas while ignoring 80% of the emissions it would produce, they simply wouldn’t believe you. This is completely irresponsible behaviour from ministers during a climate crisis.”

A DESNZ spokesperson said: “The industry is critical to strengthening our energy security – unlocking new technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen opportunities – and will reduce our reliance on imports while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and growing the economy.”

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