Vattenfall to spend $349m on offshore wind farm fought by Trump

Sweden’s Vattenfall has taken a final investment decision to build the SKr3bn ($349m) European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay, Scotland – the offshore wind farm that would-be US President Donald Trump fought tooth and nail to stop.

Vattenfall said the 92MW, 11-turbine project will be “a centre for testing and developing new technologies for offshore wind power” as the company pursues its ambition for 4GW of offshore capacity by 2020.

The Swedish company has taken full ownership of the EOWDC under an agreement with erstwhile development partner Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, which previously owned 25%.

MHI Vestas is in line to supply its V164 8MW turbines to the project. Offshore construction is due to begin late next year, with first generation in 2018. Onshore work starts later in 2016.

Vattenfall’s path to the FID had to negotiate all the obstacles the legal team of the billionaire Republican presidential candidate could put in its way.

Trump was furious that the EOWDC would ruin the views from his luxury golf resort on the Aberdeenshire shoreline and fought a court battle that only ended in December last year at the Supreme Court in London – the UK’s highest court.

Even after that Trump has remained defiant, with suggestions as recently as this month that his organisation would take the fight to the European courts.

Trump’s actions ensured that a project that was due to start generating power late last year will end up more than two years adrift, meaning its original vision of acting a test bed for UK Round 3 offshore turbines was overtaken by time.

However, Vattenfall stuck with the project and said it can play an important role in technology development, and in key areas such as O&M as the offshore wind industry moves to maturity.

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “This is great news for the industry. Scotland is admired around the world for our work in renewable energy.

“This project will keep our nation at the forefront of innovation by allowing energy companies to identify new ways to reduce operating costs.”

The Vattenfall FID provided some much-needed good news for the Scottish offshore wind sector, which on Tuesday saw more than 2GW of projects thrown into planning limbo by a court decision in favour of bird campaigners.

Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: "This announcement is great news for Scotland’s offshore wind industry, and together with developments at Levenmouth, Hunterston and Statoil’s Hywind project helps cement Scotland as a hub for innovation in the sector.

"The commitment of both Vattenfall and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group to the EOWDC is to be commended, and plans for the site will help develop the renewable energy supply chain in the Northeast and across Scotland."