The world’s fourth largest offshore wind farm – and Scotland’s largest – was officially opened on Monday.
Situated in the North Sea, 13 kilometers (eight miles) off the coast of Caithness, Beatrice’s 84 turbines will generate 588MW of energy – enough to power 450,000 homes every year – and save around eight million tons of carbon emissions over its expected 25-year lifetime operation.
The £2.5 billion ($3 billion) Beatrice project is the largest ever single private investment in Scotland and was developed by Scottish-headquartered energy firm, SSE Renewables (40 percent), with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (35 percent) and Red Rock Power Limited (25 percent).
Construction of the wind farm, Scotland’s single largest source of renewable energy, has provided a £2.4 billion ($2.9 billion) economic boost to the U.K., of which £1 billion ($1.2 billion) went directly to Scotland, supporting 19,110 years of employment in the U.K. during the development and construction phases, of which 7,180 were in Scotland.
HRH The Prince Charles, The Duke of Rothesay, officially opened the Beatrice operations and maintenance base in Wick which has seen a £20 million investment in its harbor front.
The U.K. has the biggest offshore wind industry in the world. U.K. Government Business Minister Lord Duncan said wind energy provided a record-breaking 17 percent of the U.K.’s electricity last year, an increase supported by sustained government investment which is enabling the sector to grow while driving down costs.
Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government Minister for Energy, said: “There is a significant pipeline of consented projects, including two further consented sites locally, and, as we look to future licensing rounds, we will seek to fully exploit the wider offshore wind sector opportunities for the Scottish economy while showing due regard for our incredible marine environment. This site, in an area once the home to an active oil field, but now home to this tremendous renewable energy development, is now a very tangible example of the global low carbon transition that is now well underway.”
Earlier this month, SSE wrote a letter to new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to encourage him to seize the opportunity to unite the country behind the U.K.’s commitment to Net Zero. The U.K. is the first G7 country to enshrine a commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and Johnson has already backed the Net Zero target. But this ambitious target will require ambitious action from Government and industry, and SSE believes there are three immediate priorities for Government to focus on and show that it is serious about setting the UK on the right course for Net Zero.
1. Lift the cap on the potential for renewable energy
2. Commit to a strong, long term price for carbon
3. Back electricity networks to deliver Net Zero
As of September 2018, the 659MW Walney Extension in the U.K. is the largest offshore wind farm in the world. The Hornsea Wind Farm under construction in the U.K. will become the largest when completed, at 1,200MW.