Marine Scotland Consulting on Using Offshore Wind to Decarbosnise Oil & Gas Sector

Marine Scotland has launched consultation on the potential opportunities for offshore wind innovation and projects to assist in decarbonising the oil and gas sector, which could be included in the future leasing process.

Namely, the Scottish Government has started working on a new Sectoral Marine Plan round for Offshore Wind for Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas Decarbonisation (INTOG), within which it will identify areas for future offshore wind development that will help to decarbonise the oil and gas sector through the replacement of traditional energy sources with renewable energy. 

The round will also examine opportunities for innovation projects in Scottish waters.

The Planning Specification and Context Report that the Government now put up for consultation sets out the parameters for the planning process and the information and spatial analysis carried out to identify Areas of Search for future leasing opportunities.

Among other things, the report states that floating wind technology is particularly well suited to the deeper water abundant around Scotland and in the vicinity of oil and gas infrastructure.

The consultation on this report and the Areas of Search will be open until 20 October 2021. 

Sectoral Marine Planning Before Offering Sites for Lease

The Scottish Government has introduced a system of sectoral marine planning to facilitate the sustainable development of offshore renewable energy in Scottish waters.

This planning exercise brings together the related planning, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Habitats Regulation Appraisal (HRA) and Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) as well as statutory consultation processes into one integrated process. The output of the process is a Sectoral Marine Plan (SMP) containing Scottish Ministers’ Plan Options (PO) for the sustainable development of commercial scale offshore renewable energy.

In October 2020, the government published the Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy, which identified 15 Plan Options around Scotland and the detailed Sustainability Appraisal assessed a potential impact of 10 GW.

These Plan Options now form the spatial component of the ScotWind seabed leasing process, managed by Crown Estate Scotland, which attracted over 70 applications until its closing day on 16 July. Awards for projects totalling up 10 GW are expected to be announced early 2022.

The Sectoral Marine Plan 2020 further identified a possible need to reexamine the planning process to allow more targeted projects to progress with the specific focus of seeking to electrify oil and gas infrastructure.

Now, the Scottish Government is now seeking to develop a Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy for Innovation projects and Targeted Oil and Gas Decarbonisation (INTOG) which encompasses Plan Options to provide the strategic framework for future offshore wind deployment in sustainable and suitable locations that will help deliver projects to meet Scotland’s renewable energy goal and its wider net zero commitments.

Photo: Equinor; Illustration