United Kingdom: GBP 525m European backing for Beatrice windfarm off Caithness coast
23 May 2016
The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide GBP 525 million for construction of the Beatrice windfarm to be built 14 km off the Caithness coast, near Wick in north-east Scotland. This represents the single largest support ever for investment in an offshore wind project by the European Investment Bank.
This is also the first project in Scotland to be supported by the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe, intended to generate EUR 315 billion of new investment across Europe.
“We are delighted that Beatrice has achieved Financial Close and we are extremely grateful for all of the support received throughout the development of the project from stakeholders such as the Scottish Government, DECC, HIE, the Highland Council, Moray Council and local communities. Contracts have already been placed with many UK based suppliers, and Siemens intend to undertake turbine blade construction from Siemen’s new manufacturing facility in Hull. Today’s decision reaffirms SSE’s commitment to offshore wind and we are proud to progress such a flagship project for the Scottish offshore wind industry and the UK’s skilled supply chain. It shows SSE will continue to play its part in investing in the critical energy infrastructure the country needs to power homes across the UK both today and in the future.” said Paul Cooley, Director of Renewables at SSE.
“Around £10m of investment is planned at Wick Harbour to house the wind farm’s operations and maintenance facilities and improving the existing RNLI facilities. We expect a peak of around 65 jobs during construction of the Operations and Maintenance base with around 90 long-term jobs anticipated during the operational phase.” added Cooley.
“Investment in offshore wind is crucial to harnessing the full potential of Scotland’s renewable energy resources. The European Investment Bank is one of the world’s largest lenders for renewable energy and our backing for Beatrice represents the EIB’s largest ever support for offshore wind investment. We are pleased to provide GBP 525 million to support construction of the Beatrice windfarm that will strengthen renewable energy generation in Scotland. This also represents the first Scottish scheme to be backed by the new European Fund for Strategic Investments. EIB backing for energy investment across the UK demonstrates our firm commitment to supporting ambitious energy projects that create jobs and benefit local companies.” said Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank Vice President.
“The UK is the world leader in offshore wind; and this industry, backed by the UK Government and benefiting from our access to the EU single market, is a success story going from strength to strength. This project will provide home-grown clean energy boosting skills and creating jobs and financial security for working people and their families in Scotland, and across the UK. This is great news for the industry and I congratulate the owners SSE, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and SDIC Power on achieving this significant milestone in the development of this multi-billion pound infrastructure project.” said Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd.
“The Beatrice Offshore Windfarm has the opportunity to deliver so much to Caithness and Scotland as a whole, in terms of employment and community benefit. Scotland’s renewables sector is stronger than ever and our early adoption of clean, green energy technology and infrastructure was the right thing to do. Renewables are now Scotland’s biggest electricity generator, and nearly half of gross electricity consumption comes from renewables. Scotland is well on course to meet its interim renewables target and is delivering a strong contribution to global climate efforts. I look forward to this project contributing to our green energy mix.” said Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy in the Scottish Government.
"Thanks to the Investment Plan and the European Investment Bank, we are getting closer to reaching our COP21 goals. Already the European Fund for Strategic Investments has helped to finance sustainable, green investments across the EU worth billions of euros. Indeed more than half of the EFSI projects approved so far are in renewable energy, energy efficiency and green investment. There's a business case; it's time to invest!", said Maroš Šefcovic, European Commission Vice-President responsible for Energy Union.
The 86 turbine Beatrice windfarm will generate up to 588MW of renewable electricity equivalent to the energy needs of more than 475 thousand homes and is expected to be fully operational in 2019. The new wind farm will cost more than GBP 2.7bn and be built by Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited, a partnership formed between SSE, SDIC Power and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Construction and operation of the Beatrice windfarm will support job creation, skills training opportunities and opportunities for local businesses in both the Moray and Highland regions of Scotland.
The Beatrice windfarm will use a new generation of Siemens 7MW Wind Turbines with 154-meter diameter rotor blades. The wind turbines, the largest generally available, will each be more than 190m high, taller than the Gherkin building in the City of London. The wind farm will be controlled and operated from a base at Wick, with access to the wind farm primarily by Crew Transfer Vessel as well as by helicopters.
The GBP 525 million 19 year long-term European Investment Bank loan will support more than GBP 2.7 billion of overall investment. Part of the European Investment Bank loan will be guaranteed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments.
The European Fund for Strategic Investments was established last year by the European Investment Bank and the European Commission to enable increased lending crucial projects by the European Investment Bank in strategic sectors such as renewable energy, digital infrastructure, social infrastructure, transport and R&D; as well as financing for SMEs.
SSE is working closely with local businesses to create a sustainable local supply chain, advertise opportunities for local suppliers and provide opportunities for local firms to benefit from investment in Scotland’s power infrastructure.
In the last 10 years the European Investment Bank has provided more than GBP 4 billion for direct investment in Scotland, with additional investment from UK wide programmes. This has included transport, education, social housing, transport, water, energy, urban regeneration and new hospital investment across the Scotland, alongside additional investment from UK wide programmes.
The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and is 16% owned by the UK government.
Over the last decade the European Investment Bank has provided more than GBP 10 billion for investment in energy infrastructure across the UK including renewable energy schemes, national transmission networks and regional power distribution as well as inter-connectors to Ireland, France and the Netherlands.
Lending by the EIB in the UK last year totalled GBP 5.6 billion and supported long-term investment in 40 projects across the country. This represented the largest annual engagement since the start of EIB lending in the UK in 1973 which has supported nearly GBP 16 billion of overall investment.
The EIB has agreed to provide GBP 500 million to support a major reinforcement of the electricity transmission network in the north of Scotland to improve connections between wind, wave and tidal renewable energy schemes and the national power network. The new power link will help secure the supply of electricity in the Highlands and beyond for generations to come and once operational the new transmission link will supply equivalent electricity to meet the needs of around 2 million Scottish residents.
Last year the European Investment Bank provided more than GBP 5.5 billion for a record number of UK based projects, compared to GBP 5.6 billion in 2015. New financing agreed in 2016 represented the second largest annual engagement since the start of EIB lending in the UK in 1973.