Scottish oil industry know-how 'could slash offshore wind costs'

The expertise of Scotland’s oil and gas industry could help slash at least 20% from the cost of offshore wind operations thanks to a significant potential crossover between the two sectors, according to Scottish Enterprise.

A guide developed by the business group to highlight opportunities for the oil sector in wind estimates that its supply chain could deliver £330m ($513m) of savings over the life-cycle of a typical offshore project.

Potential areas of crossover between the two sectors have been identified – such as installation, personnel transfer and operational and maintenance activities – where the expertise in the oil sector could significantly reduce project development times and operational costs.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond says: “Inward investment announcements over the last year have underlined Scotland’s position as a leading location for the development of offshore renewable technology, building on our competitive advantage gained through decades of offshore engineering expertise from our oil and gas industry”.

Globally, the UK, Germany and China are the three largest offshore wind markets, and together over the next four years will install 11GW of new capacity – almost 83% of the global total.

The UK is forecast to be the largest market during 2011 to 2015 as it completes the first phase of projects linked to the Scottish territorial waters and Crown Estate Round 3 licence awards. Scotland could see up to 10GW of capacity installed by 2020.

Adrian Gillespie, Scottish Enterprise director of energy and low carbon technologies, says: “Scotland has over 40 years of experience in the oil and gas sector, which could greatly benefit the offshore wind sector. By encouraging greater collaboration and knowledge-sharing between these two important sectors, we will create a lasting and positive effect on the Scottish economy".

The guide includes a number of examples. One of these, Aberdeen-based energy engineering consultancy Xodus Group, recognised the benefits of diversifying from its oil and gas roots into the offshore wind sector.

Since entering the low-carbon market, the company now attributes over £2m of its turnover to the sector, and predicts this figure will rise to £10m by 2015.

Colin Manson, Xodus Group chief executive, says: “For oil and gas companies the opportunities in the low-carbon market and specifically the offshore wind sector are vast, and we anticipate our turnover to increase significantly over the next four years through greater collaboration with developers, academia and the finance sector".

Development of the new guide emerged after the oil and gas, and renewable energy summit held in Aberdeen last December, which itself was a result of last year's Scottish Low Carbon Investment conference.