The Scottish government has kicked off a new consultation with industry to explore weaving in projects to its sector marine plan for the ScotWind leasing round that would use offshore wind to power operating oil & gas platforms, as part of the country’s push toward wider net zero goals.

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The process would examine so-called Innovation projects and Targeted Oil and Gas Decarbonisation (INTOG), with the expectation that the focus would be on floating wind arrays of under-100MW that “targeted electrification of oil and gas infrastructure” in Scottish waters.

“The Scottish government is committed to ensuring secure, reliable and affordable energy supplies within the context of long-term decarbonisation of energy generation. Continued growth of the renewable energy sector in Scotland is an essential feature of the future clean energy system and a potential key driver of economic growth,” the government said in a Marine Scotland scoping document.

“Offshore wind is a large-scale technology with the potential to play a pivotal role in Scotland’s energy system over the coming decades. The development of technologies such as floating wind, which offer scope for development in deeper water, have significant potential to contribute offshore wind energy supply at affordable prices.

“Floating technology is particularly well suited to the deeper water abundant around Scotland and in the vicinity of oil and gas infrastructure.”

An outgrowth of the development of Scotland’s 2020 Sectoral Marine Plan (SMP), which “identified a possible need to re-examine the planning process to allow more targeted projects to progress with the specific focus of seeking to electrify oil and gas infrastructure”, the scheme would look to deliver “viable and sustainable offshore wind projects in areas identified as suitable for future development”, with an eye on environmental, socio-economic and spatial considerations, the government said.

“Oil and gas extraction from the North Sea has been a core feature of Scottish waters and the marine environment for multiple decades,” said the government. “Though the oil & gas sector has been transformational for Scotland, and the UK, our wider commitments to net zero encompass these sectors and will mean significant changes are required to meet the Scottish and UK deadlines.

“Offshore wind may not be the only answer, carbon capture usage and storage and direct power options from shore, in addition to offshore turbines connected to oil and gas assets may all play a role in meeting these commitments. However, offshore wind is a proven and reliable source of green energy and with technological advances in floating wind, it offers a direct, sustainable and importantly, a timely solution.”

Several pioneering projects that aim to use floating wind to decarbonisation oil & gas operations off Europe have already been launched, including the industry-leading 88MW Hywind Tampen, now under development, which will use an array of 11 spar-based turbines to cut emissions from Equinor’s Snorre-Gullfaks complex off Norway.

Developer Cerulean Wind – started-up by a pair of former petroleum executives – is advancing a scheme to use 3GW of floating wind off Scotland to decarbonise more than half the emissions being produced by oil & gas operations in the central and northern UK North Sea.

And oil & gas drilling contractor Odfjell recently spun-out a unit named Odfjell Oceanwind that aims to use floating wind unit ranging in size from 1MW-11MW to decarbonisation offshore hydrocarbons production.

Scotland’s 2020 SMP for offshore wind energy spotlighted 15 sites that would meet INTOG criteria, as part of the ScotWind leasing process, awards for which are slated to be announced early in 2022.