The largest offshore wind farm so far authorised for Scottish waters is to be jointly developed by a state-owned Chinese company and Portugal’s largest renewables firm. EDP Renováveis, a subsidiary of power firm Energias de Portugal, has announced it has signed an accord with China Three Gorges Corporation for the joint development of the huge wind farm project planned for the Outer Moray Firth in the North Sea.
China Three Gorges is already the biggest shareholder in EDP, the largest industrial company in Portugal with 12,000 employees. Now the two firms will jointly invest in Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL) which has Scottish Government consent for the construction and operation of 1,116 MW of offshore wind generation in the Telford, Stevenson and MacColl offshore wind farms in the Outer Moray Firth.
Once fully operational, the three farms will be capable of supplying power to the equivalent of around 700,000 homes, making it currently the second-largest offshore wind farm in the UK to have received consent.
Up to 186 giant wind turbines are planned for the farms some 14 miles (22km) from the Caithness coastline, with up to 2,400 jobs being created at the peak of construction.
Under the new agreement, China Three Gorges will acquire a stake of up to 30 per cent in MORL which secured a licence from the UK Government to develop an offshore wind farm in the area in January 2010 as part of the first round of licensing by seabed owner the Crown Estate.
In March 2014, MORL received authorisation from the Scottish Government to develop up to 1,116MW of offshore power capacity. The project is still dependent on UK Government support and a connection to the National Grid through the reformed electricity market Contract for Difference (CfD) programme.
MORL missed out on a CfD contract earlier this year, but will be bidding in the next round – a contract is vital because it guarantees a set amount or “strike price” for each megawatt hour produced over an initial 15-year period.
In a statement to the CMVM, the Portuguese stock exchange commission, EDP said that “other potential investors” might be joining the project, with investment being dependent on the CfD auctions.
In a statement to the CMVM, the Portuguese stock exchange, EDP said: “The transaction is expected to occur in two phases, with China Three Gorges investing between 10-20 per cent following the announcement of a new Contract for Difference auction allocation round, and an additional investment of up to 10 per cent subject to MORL being successfully awarded with a CfD.
“The transaction is subject to regulatory and third-party approvals and other precedent conditions.
“The project may be divided in several phases, to allow a proper bidding strategy in the CfD allocation rounds.”