Wind energy’s £30 billion of potential for Scotland

Mr Salmond, who will deliver the opening address at this week’s Offshore Wind Conference in Aberdeen, said the sector had the potential to become a vital part of Scotland’s economy.

Spanish firm Gamesa has announced it wants to create nearly 200 jobs in Dundee by establishing a wind turbines manufacturing and maintenance plant but it is hoped this may be the first of a series of companies to invest in Dundee.

Both Tayside and Fife are seen as being in prime position to capitalise on the growth in offshore wind energy because of their proximity to North Sea sites chosen for possible wind farm development.

Mr Salmond said, "The Scottish Government is committed to the development of a successful and sustainable offshore wind industry.

"Offshore wind power offers huge economic rewards to Scotland with an expected £30 billion ofinvestment planned over the next 10 years. Scotland has an added advantage of more than 40 years’ expertise in the oil and gas sector."

He added, "Clearly there remain challenges ahead but it is clear Scotland has the expertise, the ambition and the momentum to build an offshore wind energy industry that is a sustainable and integral part of Scotland’s economic landscape."

This week’s two-day conference has been organised by Scottish Renewables and Scottish Enterprise. Representatives from businesses such as Gamesa, Subsea 7, BiFab, Siemens, Technip,ScottishPower Renewables, Scottish and Southern Energy as well as the Wood Group and the Crown Estate will attend.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said, "This will be the largest ever offshore wind event in Scotland and we hope this will be the latest stage of ongoing work where expertise we have garnered through many years of the oil and gas industry in the north-east can now be transferred to the offshore renewables industry.

"Our offshore renewables sector is developing fast but lessons from oil and gas will play a major part in achieving our ambitions to build a low-carbon economy around alternative sources of energy."

He added, "The potential for 28,000 direct jobs from the offshore wind turbines industry means it is vital to get this right for Scotland’s economy and environment."

Adrian Gillespie, director of energy and low carbon technologies at Scottish Enterprise, said the offshore wind turbines industry is gathering "rapid momentum."

He said, "The National Renewables Infrastructure Plan is now well into delivery and the associated National Renewables Infrastructure Fund has already highlighted a number of opportunities now being developed which would bring significant new employment to the Scottish offshore wind sector.

"Many more opportunities exist for Scottish companies and now is the time for businesses to develop an early lead in the vast offshore wind farm market."