EDF wind farm to save 400,000 tonnes of CO₂ a year
EDF subsidiary EDF Renewables has begun construction on a new offshore wind farm in Scotland. The renewable energy project will create thousands of jobs, contribute hundreds of millions to the Scottish economy and potentially supply enough low carbon electricity for around 375,000 homes, more than a city the size of Edinburgh.
What details has EDF announced?
Neart na Gaoithe, or "strength of the wind" in Gaelic, will have a capacity of around 450 megawatts and could offset over 400,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions each year.
The 105 km2 Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) farm is to be completed 15.5 km off the Fife coast and has been in the planning since 2009. NnG was bought by EDF Renewables in 2018.
EDF Renewables UK CEO Matthieu Hue said the firm was “excited to get work under way”.
“The 450 MW NnG project will play an important role in de-carbonising the UK electricity system and is a further example of EDF Renewables continuous investment and growth in Scotland,” he said.
The project is backed by Irish energy company ESB, which will have a 50% stake, along with investment from 25 financial institutions. Up to £1.8bn will be invested in the infrastructure.
The price for electricity produced by NnG is protected for 15 years by a UK government scheme called a Contract for Difference. This insulates developers of significant renewable energy projects from unpredictable wholesale prices and protects consumers from footing the bill when electricity prices are high.
The equipment for the array is now being built and offshore construction will run from June 2020 to completion in 2023.
What does the project mean for Scotland?
NnG represents a welcome enlargement of the offshore wind industry in Scotland, meaning new jobs both directly with EDF and through the manufacturing opportunities created by the project. Around 3,400 people are currently employed in Scotland’s offshore wind industry.
The company's Edinburgh team has already increased from 44 to over 100 employees in preparation for the project.
The farm will be kept running by workers at the NnG operations and maintenance base in Eyemouth Harbour where fifty permanent jobs are likely to be created.
NnG Project Director Matthias Haag said his team were looking forward to working on the “fantastic project” and collaborating with local businesses.
“Each of our main contractors will be introduced to further Scottish contractors through the Forth and Tay offshore cluster which we have supported since it was formed this year,” he said.
It is designed to maximise local supply chain and employment opportunities as much as possible.
Each of the farm’s 54 wind turbine generators will have a capacity of eight megawatts (MW) and will be provided by the Spanish firm Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. The foundations will be installed by Italian firm Saipem.
The turbines will all be assembled in Dundee and Scotland’s BiFab is contracted to construct a number of the foundation jackets which the turbines will stand on. An investment of £40m for the Port of Dundee has already been announced.
The Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary Derek Mackay welcomed the “positive news” of jobs and investment in local communities for the Port of Dundee, Eyemouth Harbour and Fife.
“The Scottish Government is actively encouraging developers to explore every possible option to help the Scottish supply chain in the development of future offshore wind projects,” he said.
“While we believe that much more is possible from across the whole sector, today’s announcement is another welcome step in the right direction.”
What is EDF Renewables?EDF Renewables is a joint venture between the global EDF Renewables Group and UK supplier EDF Energy, both wholly-owned subsidiaries of the French energy giant EDF. The company currently has a wind farm and battery storage capacity of more than 965MW, including 496MW in Scotland. In the UK, EDF Energy gets 72% of its energy from nuclear, with a mix of coal, gas and renewables making up the remainder. At 11.7% renewables are its second biggest source and, with projects like NnG, the firm’s CAP 2030 strategy aims to double that figure by 2030..
The Scottish government has set a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2045, five years earlier than the target set by the UK government in Westminster.
To help meet this objective the recently-formed Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council wants to increase the country’s current 1 gigawatt (GW) offshore capacity to 8GW by 2030.
That figure would fulfill the energy demands of 5.2 million households, more than twice the total number currently in Scotland. The surplus power would go towards meeting the needs of business, industry and the public sector or sold on to the rest of the UK.
With its addition of almost half a gigawatt the NnG scheme is a good step on the road to making that 8GW capacity a reality.