Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

New offshore wind farm contracts announced

Offshore wind farm
The licences could see the installation of hundreds of new turbines

Contracts have been awarded for a major expansion of offshore wind power in the seas around Scotland.

Moray Offshore Renewables and SeaGreen Wind Energy will develop offshore wind power in the Moray Firth and the Firth of Forth.

The energy companies have been awarded the contracts by the Crown Estate, a UK government agency.

It is believed the development could lead to 1,000 new turbines generating nearly five giga watts of power.

Jobs could also be created in manufacturing, research, engineering, installation, operation and services.

The move comes just days after the Scottish government's approval of the controversial upgrade to the Beauly to Denny transmission line of pylons from the Highlands to central Scotland.

We hold a competitive advantage in developing offshore renewables, including as much as a quarter of Europe's offshore wind energy potential and a world-class scientific capacity and skills base
Alex Salmond
First Minister

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "The announcement by the Crown Estate is excellent news for Scotland.

"We hold a competitive advantage in developing offshore renewables, including as much as a quarter of Europe's offshore wind energy potential and a world-class scientific capacity and skills base."

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said Scotland was the windiest country in Europe and the conditions were being created for the energy industry to invest in harnessing it.

He added: "This is one of the strongest signals yet that Scotland is right at the heart of the UK's commitment to a low carbon, energy secure, prosperous future.

"But it's also great news for the manufacturing industry and supply chain in Scotland."

'Great opportunity'

The Crown Estate is the owner of the UK's coastal seabeds and this third round of grants covers the Moray Firth zone, which will be developed by a partnership involving the Portuguese company, EDP Renewables and SeaEnergy.

The Firth of Forth of zone will be developed by SeaGreen Wind Energy, a consortium formed by Scottish and Southern Energy's renewable energy development division Airtricity and the UK arm of the Fluor Corporation.

About 3.2 million homes could be powered by 4.7GW of electricity, according to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The Scottish rights are among nine being granted across the UK.

A £1.5m grant has also been agreed for Fife firm Burntisland Fabrications to support supply chain.

Ian Scrimger, the firm's business development manager, said: "This is a great opportunity for the UK manufacturing industry and the supply chain creating thousands of jobs."

The Crown Estate has also commissioned a study for offshore wind power in the Outer Firth of Forth and Tay regions.



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