SCOTLAND has exported oil and gas for decades. Now it’s set to become a net exporter of renewable power as developers prepare to put new windfarms off the coast.

But will the profits from the facilities consented through the ScotWind leasing round also go abroad?

That’s been the subject of much debate since the results were announced by Crown Estate Scotland on Monday in the first such process undertaken since responsibility was devolved.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the prospective 25 gigawatts of generation, which is more than double Scotland’s total needs, will be “transformational” and each one of those gigawatts could be worth a £1 billion boost to this country.

READ MORE: Interactive map: Where the 17 ScotWind projects will be based

But her former Scottish Government colleague Kenny MacAskill (below) has accused authorities of “selling the family silver cheap” and said that “instead of Scottish resources being just handed over to international investment companies there should be a public stake in every single field”.

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There is a public stake in some of the bids, just not a Scottish public stake – after all, the country currently has no state-owned energy companies. Instead, Sweden’s Vatenfall is the lead applicant in one £20 million project in partnership with Fred Olsen Renewables, a private operator also based in Sweden.

And Orsted, 50.1% owned by the Danish government, has teamed up with Falck Renewables Wind of Italy to deliver another £25m floating installation.

The rest of the players involved in the 17 approved bids are as international – and as multinational – as you may expect from such a big money industry.

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Lisbon, Texas, Madrid, London – companies based in all of these cities and more will now seek to put their plans into production.

Their owners and shareholders make up an even more complex map of global trade and investment through hedge funds, financial holding companies and similar operations.

Of the 17 successful bids, winners include EDP of Portugal, formed from nationalised players in the 1970s and now a multinational that saw the government’s remaining shares bought by a Chinese state-owned enterprise a decade ago. They also include DEME of Belgium, which operates across continents, and Spanish wind giant Iberdrola, which also owns ScottishPower.

The latter has been awarded the rights to develop three new offshore farms, two of which – MarramWind and Campion Wind – are in partnership with Shell, fresh out of its exit from the proposed Cambo oil development that caused so much controversy.

READ MORE: Scotland can become a world leader in floating wind farms, energy boss says

In fact, around 20% of all capacity through ScotWind will go to companies synonymous with big oil, none of which are headquartered in this country. BP and TotalEnergies were also successful and of the £700m expected to be paid to the Scottish Government, one third of this will be come from such companies through the consortia they’re involved in.

BP is to work with Germany’s EnBW, while French multinational Total’s project partners include Macquarie Corporate Holdings Pty of Australia and Siemens Energy of Germany.

Scottish firms will get a share of the profits, but undoubtedly smaller than these giants. Stornoway Port Authority and Kishorn Port are to benefit, as are Eneus Energy of Edinburgh and Inverness-based TTI Marine Renewables.

Nonetheless, MSPs including Labour’s Mercedes Villalba think more public benefit could have been wrung from the leasing round. “Our renewable energy capability is being used to generate private profit for multinationals and overseas governments while workers in the oil and gas industry are facing unemployment,” she said. “We must make offshore wind leases contingent on local job creation and trade union recognition.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is working to keep as much of the money in its area as possible. “Hundreds of jobs” could be created from every one of the projects, according to WWF Scotland, which has hailed the potential to “put Scotland on a path to a green recovery”.

That could be a major boon to the Outer Hebrides, where business confidence was hit harder and confidence lower over the pandemic than other parts of the Highlands and islands, according to HIE research. It’s now organised a webinar for firms there who could join the energy supply chain.

READ MORE: 'Transformational' ScotWind renewables sale 'could bring oil-style' boom

Three of the developments will be off the Outer Hebrides – agreements are in place for waters north-east and north-west of the Butt of Lewis and for west of Lewis – and HIE says that could herald “an exciting era of major expansion” for the sector there.

HIE energy and inward investment specialist Paul O’ Brien wants as many local operators to get involved as possible. “We would encourage any business or potential supply partner in the islands to attend the webinar next week for a chance to find out more about the huge opportunities following this announcement,” he said. “It’s great news for the Highlands and Islands and has the added potential for Scotland to become an exporter of offshore wind technology beyond 2030 and is expected to lead to the creation of many new jobs.”