Global wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power has received consent from the Scottish Ministers to build and operate its 450 megawatt Neart na Gaoithe (“NnG”) offshore wind farm in the Outer Forth Estuary in the North Sea.
This will be the first large-scale offshore wind farm constructed and operated in Scottish waters to be directly connected to the Scottish electricity system. The 450 megawatt wind farm will have the capacity to deliver enough power for 325,000 homes (more than the number of homes in Edinburgh) and equal to 3.7% of Scotland’s total electricity demand. The wind farm is expected to start pre-construction activities next year and begin generating electricity by 2018.
NnG represents a capital expenditure investment of around £1.5 billion and is on track to be the first offshore wind farm in the UK to attract true non-recourse project finance at the construction stage. It has pre-qualified for the Infrastructure UK Treasury Guarantee and European Investment Bank funding.
The wind farm will consist of up to 75 wind turbines and will occupy an area of approximately 80 square kilometres. At its closest point to land it lies over 15 kilometres off the Fife coast in water depths of 45-55 metres.
The subsea cable transmitting the wind farm’s power will come ashore at Thorntonloch Beach in East Lothian from where its underground cable will travel along a 12.5 kilometre route to a substation located within the Crystal Rig onshore wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills. Grid connection will occur in December 2016 and planning permission for the route of the underground cable was received from East Lothian Council in 2013.
NnG will create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs during its construction as well as throughout its operational life. Mainstream has selected preferred Balance of Plant contractors GeoSea and a STDL/Prysmian consortium. GeoSea will design, supply and install the wind turbine foundations as well as installing the wind turbines and the offshore substation. The STDL/Prysmian consortium will design, supply and install the electrical works.
Mainstream Renewable Power’s founder and Chief Executive, Eddie O’Connor said: “Today’s announcement is of particular importance for Scotland because it is the first time a wind farm will be built in Scottish waters with the purpose of supplying Scottish homes and businesses with renewable energy. In fact, it will generate enough green power to supply more than all the homes in Edinburgh.”
Andy Kinsella, Chief Operating Officer for Mainstream Renewable Power said: “This is of major significance to the global offshore wind industry because it is on track to be the first time an offshore wind farm of this scale will be built using project finance alone by a private company. It is testament to the world-leading expertise of Mainstream’s offshore development team who have been working on this project since the company was founded in 2008 and further underpins Mainstream’s position as the world’s leading independent offshore wind developer.”
He continued: “We have worked closely with the Scottish Government and its agencies through an exhaustive environmental assessment process, and look forward to continuing our best-in-class ecological monitoring work with those agencies and other key stakeholders during and after construction.”
Mainstream Renewable Power was awarded exclusivity by The Crown Estate in 2009; The NnG site was deemed suitable for the development of offshore wind by the Scottish Government’s Strategic Environmental Assessment in 2011; NnG secured its grid connection in 2010; and an Agreement for Lease was reached with The Crown Estate in 2011. Its application for consent was lodged with the Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team in 2012.