The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, a project vehemently opposed by U.S billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump, has been put off for two years to "help secure the development's future," the project's backers said in a written statement.
Vattenfall and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, the shareholders in Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd., amended the project's schedule following acceptance of an offer from National Grid, the system operator.
The change will allow continued engagement with potential investment partners and takes into account the ongoing onshore planning issues as well as existing legal challenges to the offshore consent, the backers said.
“As with any development of this nature, the project partners continuously review its progress and this includes building in scope for all possible eventualities," said Peter Wesslau, the UK Country Manager for Vattenfall and a drector of AOWFL.
"As part of this process, the project partners have always been aware that its aspirations to generate first power by late 2015 might not be in step with the progress of the project and indeed, that of the industry," he continued.
“Therefore, in the best interests of the project, we have worked to successfully modify the grid connection date. We will also explore opportunities for an earlier grid connection than 2017 in step with the progress of EOWDC, which is recognised by industry as strategically important to accelerating the offshore wind industry across Scotland, the UK and Europe – particularly in the current, challenging economic climate,” Wesslau said.
AREG's chief operating officer, Morag McCorkindale, agreed, adding, "Aberdeen City and Shire, through its global-leading offshore expertise and know-how, is the natural home for the EOWDC.
"It is therefore imperative that we capitalise on this huge opportunity to help the region diversify its energy-based economy and ensure its future prosperity," McCorkindale said.
The offshore works of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre was granted planning consent by Scottish Ministers in March, 2013, but it has been tough sledding for the project ever since.
Within two months of securing planning consent, majority shareholder Vattenfall announced it would be have to scale back its funding commitment to £230 million project.
Vattenfall and AREG, with the backing of consortium partner Technip Offshore Wind responded by putting out a call for new industry investors.
Then, in October, 2013, Aberdeenshire Council declined planning permission for the onshore substation and associated onshore works – a key element of the project.
Most recently, the Trump Organisation petitioned the Court of Session in Edinburgh for a Judicial Review of the Scottish Minister’s consent decision. Trump is building a multimillion-dollar golf resort on the coast near the wind farm site and he claims the facility will ruin the views from his resort and greatly diminish the value of his investment. The ruling on his request is pending.
Responding to word of the delay, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said:
“While we’re disappointed with the delay, it’s great to hear that a new grid connection date has been secured with National Grid by the developer. It’s also good to know that Donald Trump’s misguided attempts to frustrate Scotland's ambition to create clean power and green jobs has not put the developer off from continuing to progress this important facility.
"Scotland is home to a quarter of Europe's offshore wind resource. Studies estimate that Scotland's offshore wind industry could create 28,000 jobs by 2020 and contribute over £7 billion of investment to the economy," Lang continued. “Once up and running, this test facility would be ideally placed to help test the technologies needed to harness the huge offshore renewables potential, ensuring learning by industry, and playing an important role in helping to drive down costs.”