HUGE opportunities are anticipated with the outcome of the ScotWind auction – the first time in 10 years that plots of our seabed have come up for sale.

The results will see successful bidders gaining the lease rights to build offshore windfarms following a process that started last July.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today was a big day, tweeting: “Crown Estates Scotland will confirm the outcome of the ScotWind auction. It holds massive opportunities for our renewable energy capacity and transition to net zero, and for our economy.”

Offshore wind capacity in Scotland is around 2GW, just a fraction of the overall renewables figure, but this is expected to rise substantially in the next decade, with the potential to more than double everything built or planned in our waters.

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More than 70 bids were lodged for 15 areas of seabed – including the North Sea to the east of Angus, the east of Shetland west of Orkney and the outer Moray Firth.

Crown Estates Scotland (CES) oversaw the auction, which attracted a total of 74 bids, including from utility firms, investment funds and consortia of major oil companies, including Shell and BP.

Scotland’s single largest source of renewable energy is the Moray East project in the outer Moray Firth, with a capacity of 950MW from 100 offshore turbines – enough to power 650,000 homes – and CES hopes as much as 10GW of new capacity could be built over the next decade.

The auction could net the Scottish Government as much as £860 million.

CES is expected to make initial offers this month to successful bidders, but agreements will have to be finalised before developers can progress with detailed plans.

Full seabed licences will only be agreed upon once the Scottish Government and other bodies have given developers all the required planning permissions and consents.

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Successful groups will then pay option fees to CES in exchange for securing the rights to areas of seabed, for which the maximum amount payable will be £100,000 per square kilometre.

Profit revenue from the leasing will go to the Scottish Government for public spending to help drive the green recovery and its other priorities.

CES marine director, Colin Palmer, said: “The high number of applications from developers shows just how much potential Scotland’s seas hold for the future expansion of offshore wind.”