THE north-east of Scotland is poised to become the centre of offshore wind scientific research after three Scottish projects were earmarked for a share in a €3million (£2.6m) European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) research programme.

Insights into the lives of bottlenose dolphins, salmon, sea trout and sea birds are set to be discovered after Swedish energy firm Vattenfall announced the first successful projects for its ground-breaking offshore wind research programme yesterday.

The socio-economic impact of offshore wind farms is also to be examined as part of the scientific research, which will study the environmental effects of offshore wind in a real-time environment.

It is believed to be the largest-scale offshore wind research programme of its kind, and one that will put Scotland at the industry forefront of research and development. The diverse range of projects selected will be based at Vattenfall’s EOWDC in Aberdeen Bay.

The successful projects that will share in the fund, half of which is being provided by the European Union, include the River Dee Trust in Aberdeenshire and Marine Scotland Science, which will assess the interactions between salmon and sea trout with offshore wind technology. The project aims to help provide unknown information on the extent to which offshore wind farms influence salmon and sea trout.

SMRU Consulting and St Andrews University, both St Andrews-based, will also receive funds to help improve the understanding of bottlenose dolphin movements along the east coast of Scotland.

MacArthur Green in Glasgow will be funded to measure connectivity between special protection area populations of auks and offshore wind farms, and track non-breeding-season movements of the seabirds.

The project aims to demonstrate that this could reduce future uncertainty in impact assessments and improve understanding of how auks engage and co-exist with offshore wind farms. This project will fund a PhD student to work with the research team.

Oxford Brookes University will study the socio-economic impact of offshore wind on the human environment. The project will analyse the socio-economic effects of the EOWDC from the construction stage through to becoming fully operational, to help better understand how offshore wind developments can be maximised to benefit the region and local communities.

Adam Ezzamel, EOWDC project director at Vattenfall, said: “The announcement of these successful projects including three in Scotland is an exciting one, with each having the potential to unlock fascinating new insights into the offshore wind environment and determine influencing environmental factors.”

Gina Hanrahan of WWF Scotland said: “Offshore wind is a critical technology in the fight against climate change, helping to reduce emissions, keep the lights on and create thousands of jobs.

“This new package of projects will enrich our understanding of the environmental and economic effects of offshore wind.”