Offshore wind energy will be a game-changer for Scotland

Offshore wind energy will be a game-changer for Scotland

Offshore wind power is the game-changer for Scotland’s sustainable ambitions. With the technology and the economics already proven, the winds of investment are blowing hard offshore and there is real confidence that Scottish and UK targets can be met.

The UK has just over 10 GW of offshore wind power in operation; its target is 40 GW by 2030. Scotland’s target is 11 GW by 2030, with 2GW currently constructed.

“If we can hit these offshore wind targets, that’s a game-changer in terms of using green power to heat homes instead of fossil fuels,” says Richard Cockburn, partner and head of energy at Womble Bond Dickinson. “And we probably can do it. We’ve got another 4GW of offshore wind under construction, and just under 24GW in planning, plus two big new competitions for new offshore wind under way [Round 4 in England and ScotWind in Scotland]. They could account for roughly 18 GW, so that’s more than 40 GW overall. The Scottish contribution would help significantly with the 2045 net-zero target.”

However, there are a number of challenges. Cockburn says: “The planning and consenting processes take a long time; there are supply chain bottlenecks, and overseas investors can be put off by the different processes in Scotland and the rest of the UK, which means more resources, more expense and more time. They would prefer one regime.

“We also need to build the infrastructure onshore and offshore to connect everything up. And we will need a few more auction rounds.”

The current auction rounds will not see turbines spinning until the mid-to-late-2020s, says Cockburn. However, this could be sped up because of the number of oil and gas firms involved in bidding. Some of the best-known industry names are moving into renewables – which is positive for net-zero ambitions, but not without other consequences.

“The presence of the oil and gas companies means more financial power behind the bids, meaning that established renewables developers need to fight harder to win offshore leases,” says Cockburn. “The involvement of the oil and gas majors – and their deep pockets – might mean time frames could be shorter for getting blades spinning, but it has caused a bit of a pause and rethink. How can revenues be maximised while at the same time retaining the goodwill of the longer-standing renewables developers?”

Another big issue is making sure Scotland derives greater economic benefits from the offshore wind boom. Paul Kenneth, a real estate and finance expert with Womble Bond Dickinson, says there is more focus on this nowadays – citing the Neart Na Gaoithe (NNG) site in the Firth of Forth, with a potential capacity of almost 0.5 GW. He says: “An operation and maintenance site [for NNG] is being built in Eyemouth, and turbines will be constructed in Dundee, so you will have a beneficial effect [in Scotland] from these operations.”

Cockburn notes that GE has committed to building a blade manufacturing plant at the new freeport on Teesside, and says: “We are seeing far more requirements to use local supply chains, and pretty much all offshore wind bidders are committing to have parts manufactured – or at least assembled – in the UK.”

Another important trend is the increase in floating wind turbines, with many more likely to be deployed as developers look further out to sea.

“Until now, it’s mostly been areas of shallower waters which have been put out to auction. In deeper water, including the harsher North Sea environments, floating offshore wind is the best way to do that,” says Cockburn, highlighting two current projects, HyWind Scotland and Kincardine Offshore Floating Wind Farm.

“This is an area where Scottish developments are of worldwide importance, and where skills and technology could be exported. Other countries with harsh coastal environments are looking at lessons learned here.”

Onshore wind and solar are also crucial for the net-zero target, with 9 GW currently deployed and 16 GW of installed capacity expected by 2030. But what is the prospect for expansion?

“There are still high levels of activity in securing onshore wind farm sites but a lot of suitable sites have already been developed,” says Kenneth. “Sites now are more often scattered across various land ownerships, and can be more difficult to get to, so you might be dealing with several landowners to construct a wind farm rather than a single landowner.

“Developers are looking to areas like the north coast, which brings in considerations of how to get agreement to develop a wind farm on crofting land.”

Kenneth says the industry is already looking at the next generation: “Planning permissions last for around 25 years and leases 25 years-plus, so there comes a point where many developers need to decide if they’re going to install new turbines or try to extend the lifespan of existing turbines.

“With advances in technology, you can monitor performance and take action for maintenance and repair before catastrophic failure. In some circumstances, re powering will be appropriate and in others, extending the lifespan of existing assets will be the way forward.”

John Boyce, head of wind projects at RES, which manages more than 7.5 GW of renewable assets in Scotland, says onshore wind is increasingly able to do more with less.

He says: “Wind turbines are evolving and we are now able to produce more energy with fewer turbines. Installing the most modern turbines available will ensure Scotland reaps the benefits of great efficiencies and more clean, green electricity generation.

“Often, we find that people get very hung up on the numerical value of turbine heights and we’ve seen local planning authorities placing arbitrary limits, but we think the most important part is ensuring wind farms are designed sensitively.”

He adds: “Meeting our ambitions of net-zero and decarbonising all areas of society will require the deployment of more onshore wind, the cheapest form of new generation. Every scenario from the Committee on Climate Change to the International Energy Agency sees onshore wind playing a vital role.”

So where is the renewable energy revolution heading next? “I think wave and tidal power will become mainstream in the next few years as we have such fantastic resources,” says Cockburn. “The technology is coming on leaps and bounds.”

With so much going on, does Scotland need to focus on specifics, or do a bit of everything?

“There is only so much money available to invest in renewables,” says Cockburn. “That tends to go into proven technologies and ones with pipelines of work. We need to do what’s achievable – and sensible.

“From a human point of view, a lot of jobs in Scotland are dependent on oil and gas, particularly in the north-east, and there needs to be a just transition. Part of that is looking where skills can be redeployed. Carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, and engineering connected with offshore wind, wave or tidal are obvious places for that.”

Greener grid parks help with stability

An emerging and crucially important area for renewables, especially wind and solar, is energy storage and grid stability.

“Rather than having a handful of power stations reacting to supply and demand, there are now many different methods of generating renewable electricity on many different sites,” says Paul Mason, real estate partner at Womble Bond Dickinson.

Maintaining stability of the power grid has become a bigger challenge as more electricity is generated from renewables. Bringing solutions are firms such as Statkraft, which is developing Greener Grid Parks across the UK.

Guy Nicholson, head of grid integration at Statkraft UK, says: “We don’t always get to utilise all of the renewable electricity that could be generated, so our grid must be adapted to the rapid progress that renewable energy has made. Sometimes it’s been necessary to shut down wind farms and operate gas power plants to keep the grid stable. Projects such as our Greener Grid Parks will make this a thing of the past.”
Hands says renewables key for UK energy security

Hands says renewables key for UK energy security

A diverse source of homegrown renewable technologies will be key to ensuring the security of energy supply during the UK’s transition to net zero, according to UK Energy Minister Greg Hands.

Hands told the Industry and Regulators Committee today that this will mainly be a responsibility for government.

He added that as the UK continues to move forward in renewable energy developments there will be greater security of supply and a reduced reliance on fluctuating fossil fuel prices.

BEIS Director General for Energy and Security Joanna Whittington said that Whitehall will look to further modify future CfD rounds and upgrade the UK’s current capacity networks to facilitate such a transition.

Further adjustments to future auctions will also work to attract overseas investors to the UK renewables sector as the CfD continues to evolve, Whittington added.

Hands said he was confident in the appeal of the UK industry for foreign investments given the certainty government policy provides.

“They’ll know the UK is very serious about the supply chain and about making sure there are the jobs and skills attached to that investment as well,” he said.

“I think an area that we need to work more on is getting out to them the benefits and opportunities in the UK.”

Powersystems awarded the electrical works for Hendy Wind Farm

Powersystems awarded the electrical works for Hendy Wind Farm

Powersystems are delighted to have been awarded the electrical works contract for the 16.1 MW Hendy Onshore Wind Farm. The wind farm will be located on a site of 150 hectares near the village of Penybont, situated south west of Llandegley, Llandrindod Wells, Wales.

The 66 kV project works at Hendy Wind Farm will see the high voltage electrical engineers Powersystems; design, supply, install, commission and set to work all the electrical works between the point of connection to the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) network. The Point of Common Connection (POCC) for Hendy Wind  Farm 66/33kV substation will be situated within the WPD 66kV substation.

Powersystems will design, procure and install the 66kV and 33kV equipment for the electrical works project, this is expected to be a 40-week construction programme from start to finish.

The wind farm will comprise of 6no. Enercon E82 wind turbines plus 1no. Vestas V80 wind turbine; these with a Total Installed Capacity (TIC) of 16.1 MW. One turbine (the Vestas V80) is already installed and this will be connected into the overall wind farm system.

Powys Council granted planning consent for the Hendy Wind Farm for the turbines at 2.5 MW with a maximum hub height of 69m and maximum tip height of 110m, associated works, infrastructure, compound and buildings.

Hendy Wind Farm could generate enough energy to meet the demands for around 9,800* homes every year.

It is expected that Hendy Wind Farm will bring economic benefits to the area using materials sourced materials locally and using local companies during construction. Between £4.5m and £6.75m could be spent with local businesses during the construction period.

Wind energy isn’t just good for the environment, the construction of Hendy Wind Farm will deliver meaningful benefits for the local economy and community. A community fund will be set up based on £5,000 per MW per annum, which will deliver over £2m of investment in the local area throughout the lifetime of the wind farm.

As part of building the UK carbon free future, Powersystems proudly support the design, installation, and commissioning of climate restoration technologies with connectivity in all renewable sectors.
Powersystems are powering the UK to a green recovery, with 5 GW of installed green energy as they play their part helping to decarbonise the National Grid.

Working with partners, delivering sustainable power solutions, proudly the Powersystems high voltage specialist team have connected 27% of all U.K. onshore wind farms.

* This is based on Renewable UK and the following calculation Operational MW x 8760 (number of hours in a year) x 0.2782 (the capacity factor for both on & offshore wind) / 4192 (UK average domestic household consumption in kWh) and it should be noted that this is an estimate and not based on site specific data.

Main contractors announced for UK’s first Greener Grid Park

Main contractors announced for UK’s first Greener Grid Park

Statkraft has awarded a contract to Powersystems with civils subcontractor Knights Brown to undertake the electrical and civil engineering works for a £20 million greener grid park project in Moray, Scotland.  AECOM have been appointed Owner’s Engineer.

Construction is expected to start in the coming months and is due to reach operational stage in autumn 2021.

The project, located near the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks transmission substation at Keith will include two large rotating stabilisers designed to provide stable flows of energy through the grid network, helping to increase the amount of renewable energy transmitted on the system and prevent power blackouts.

The rotating stabilisers are being manufactured in Rugby by GE Power Conversion, with steel casting and forging specialist Sheffield Forgemasters manufacturing the key component of the main rotator shaft and hub.

Statkraft was awarded the stability contract as part of National Grid’s Stability Pathfinder Project to meet its ambition that by 2025 the electricity system can be operated at zero carbon. The contract with National Grid provides grid stability services when there are no fossil fuel generators on the system to provide this. There will be an increased demand for this service as the amount of renewable energy generated increases.

The two machines at Keith are expected to be up and running in autumn 2021, with another project in Liverpool to follow.

Statkraft will manage the construction and operation of the project.

Statkraft UK Managing Director, David Flood said: “We are at the forefront of an emerging area for global energy systems. The UK are world-leaders in their approach to grid stability and we can showcase this expertise to other countries looking to do the same as their renewables capacity increases.”

Guy Nicholson, Statkraft UK Head of Grid Integration said: “Our grid network needs to keep up with the rapid progress renewables has made in the UK. Sometimes National Grid, as the electricity system operator, has been forced to shut down wind farms and run gas power stations to keep the system stable. More projects like Keith Greener Grid Park will mean that will become a thing of the past.”

Statkraft has received a strong response to a call for local suppliers made in conjunction with Moray Chamber of Commerce, with over 75 registrations of interest received in the first week. Local businesses can add their name at

Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy, Statkraft have consent to build a similar project in Liverpool, and have three other projects in the consenting process across Wales, England and Scotland. The company also have an extensive wind development pipeline in the UK including 400MW in planning.

Notes To Editors

About Powersystems

Powersystems UK Ltd are a specialist High Voltage electrical engineering company established in 1977.  Powersystems have grown by reputation to become a major force in the design and installation of high voltage infrastructure across the whole of the United Kingdom.

As one of the first Lloyds National Electricity Registration Scheme ‘s accredited Independent Connection Providers we are capable of delivering contestable grid connections at voltages up to 132kV.

For more information contact Jules Daly, Marketing and Communications Manager at Powersystems UK. Email Telephone 01454 318 000

About Statkraft

Statkraft is a leading company in hydropower internationally and Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy. In the UK, the Group own and develop wind power, hydropower, solar power and Greener Grid ParksTM. It is also involved in the trading and origination of power from its own projects and those of third parties.

Statkraft has 4,000 employees in 17 countries and has operated in the UK since 2006.

Since 2006, Statkraft has invested £1.4 billion in the UK’s renewable energy infrastructure and facilitated over 6 GW of new-build renewable energy generation through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). With a portfolio now exceeding 10 TWh per year from almost 300 customers, Statkraft is the leading provider of short and long term PPAs in the UK.

As a state-owned utility, Statkraft is a solid, dependable partner, committed to playing a leading role in the UK energy market.

About Keith Greener Grid Park

In January 2020 Statkraft was one of five companies to agree a contract with National Grid ESO, worth £328 million over a six-year period, in a new, innovative and world first approach to managing the stability of the electricity system. The Keith Greener Grid Park is part of that agreement.

The project is located off Westerton Road, Keith, and was approved by Moray Council in May 2020. For more information visit 6 July 2020

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Viridor, Polymers 2 contract in Avonmouth

Viridor, Polymers 2 contract in Avonmouth

Powersystems your high voltage (HV) specialist partners – Are delighted to have been awarded the Viridor, Polymers 2 contract in Avonmouth, near Bristol.

Resource management company Viridor is set to open the UK’s largest multi-polymer plastic recycling plant in Avonmouth, which will be powered by energy generated from its £252-million energy recovery facility currently under construction on the same site.

The new plastics recycling plant is expected to cost £65 million and will process 81,000 tonnes of PET, HDPE and PP plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays in its first year of operation, rising to 89,000 tonnes in year three. This will produce 60,000 tonnes of recycled plastic in year one, rising to 63,000 tonnes in year three. Any plastics deemed un-recyclable will be sent for energy recovery at the Avonmouth ‘Resource Recovery Centre’ (RRC), which is due to be completed by mid-2020.

The RRC will process 320,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste every year, coming from Viridor’s local authority contracts in the region, including the Somerset Waste Partnership, and will generate around 32 megawatts of electricity. The energy produced will be used to power the plastics plant on the same site.

The project has been described as a ‘world-class facility’ and an ‘early sign of Viridor’s continuing commitment to UK plastics conversion’, joining similar projects announced this year by Biffa, Coral and Recycling Technologies at a time when there are growing calls to boost domestic plastic reprocessing and reduce reliance on the export of plastic waste.

A report by the National Audit Office, published in July of last year, found that exports of plastic packaging waste had increased six times since 2002, with much of this ending up in the natural environment of the countries it was exported to.

Images of the environmental damage wrought by improperly disposed plastic have led MPs to call for an end to the export of plastic waste to developing countries, while plastic waste has been added to the list of wastes subject to controls under the Basel Convention, limiting its trade.

The UK Government indicated in its Resources and Waste Strategy that it is seeking to stimulate demand for recycled plastic in the UK through increasing domestic reprocessing, with a tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled plastic one of its flagship policies for doing so.

There is a clear ambition from both UK consumers and politicians to improve recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste which is sent to export. Research shows that 80 per cent of people believe the UK should find a way to deal with its own recycling without having to ship it to other countries.

Unless action is taken now and investment in infrastructure is made, a plastic recycling capacity gap will undermine UK ambitions and the sustainability targets of retailers and the big consumer brands.

The co-location of the plastics recycling facility and the Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre aims to create greater sustainability and environmental efficiency in Viridor’s operations while creating ‘a recycling powerhouse’ in the South West.

To speak with the high voltage Energy from waste team call us on 01454 318000 or email us on

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Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic statement from Powersystems

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic statement from Powersystems

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic statement from Powersystems.

For many of us right now, the scale of the Covid19 (Coronavirus) crisis calls to mind historic events that have reshaped society in lasting ways.

In dealing with this extraordinary shock to our system the team at Powersystems wanted to reassure you and let you know how we are dealing with the challenges that we face from the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

The health, safety and well-being of our Powersystems partners, colleagues, customers, supply chain partners and wider public is our top priority. We have implemented procedures to safeguard our partners with the office closed and all the team working from home. Whilst we are ensuring that the necessary procedures and assessments are in place to allow site operations to be carried out safely in accordance with the latest official guidance from the UK Government.

Our technology and communication systems are working well and serving the business successfully.  

We continue to advise Powersystems partners and wider stakeholders on government guidance.

We are actively promoting preventative measures to minimise the risk of infection, through revised protocols and daily procedures, these include continued focus upon hygiene-cleaning, sanitisation, encouraging video conferencing and virtual meetings via Zoom, Face-time and Skype and avoiding non-essential face-to-face meetings. Where these may take place, they will do so within guidelines and will continue as long as it is safe to do so.

Powersystems partners can be contacted on our usual mobile and office numbers as well as email and LinkedIn which can be found on our website

Looking forward, we welcome new business enquiries and will continue to tender for future contracts even whilst our office may be closed.

Our focus is on the safe continuity of business this is a difficult time for everyone and the immediate future is uncertain. Please be reassured however, that Powersystems is resilient and we are responding to the challenge presented with the support of our partners. To them we are grateful for their agility and proud of their response to this current situation.

Thank you for your support. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with your usual Powersystems engineering contact.

Stay Safe Everyone


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