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£2.5bn Beatrice offshore wind farm officially opened in Wick by Duke of Rothesay


By Alan Hendry


After a short speech Prince Charles unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of the Beatrice offshore wind farm. Picture: DGS
After a short speech Prince Charles unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of the Beatrice offshore wind farm. Picture: DGS

ONE of the leading figures in the Beatrice offshore wind development has spoken of his pride at the "significant positive impact" the project has already made to the Caithness community – and promised that the benefits will last for decades to come.

Jim Smith, managing director of SSE Renewables, was speaking today after the £2.5bn wind farm was officially opened in Wick by Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.

Beatrice is the world’s fourth largest offshore wind farm, and the biggest in Scotland.

Located 13km off the east coast of Caithness, its 84 turbines will generate 588MW of energy – enough to power 450,000 homes every year – and save around eight million tonnes of carbon emissions over its expected 25-year lifetime operation.

Mr Smith said: “We’re incredibly privileged and honoured to welcome His Royal Highness to Wick today to perform the official opening of Scotland’s largest wind farm, Beatrice.

“Today is about celebrating the hard work, innovation, drive and collaboration of thousands of people from across Scotland, the UK and further afield who all played their part in building Beatrice, which is now Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm and the fourth largest in the world.

“We’re incredibly proud it’s been delivered on time and under budget, even when dealing with the challenges the North Sea and deep waters bring. We’re especially proud of the significant positive impact Beatrice has already made to the communities of Wick and Caithness, and which will last for decades to come.

Beatrice is the world’s fourth largest offshore wind farm. Picture: Bowl
Beatrice is the world’s fourth largest offshore wind farm. Picture: Bowl

“The UK has the biggest offshore wind industry in the world and this world-class offshore project paves the way for future development in Scotland and the UK to help decarbonise our economy while boosting jobs and growth.

“Most importantly, Beatrice will save around eight million tonnes of harmful carbon emissions over its 25-year lifetime operation, making one of the most significant contributions across the UK in combating climate change and meeting our net zero ambitions.”

We’re incredibly privileged and honoured to welcome His Royal Highness to Wick today to perform the official opening of Scotland’s largest wind farm.

Beatrice started development 10 years ago with construction, led by SSE Renewables, taking just over two years. Construction of the wind farm, Scotland’s single largest source of renewable energy, has provided a £2.4bn economic boost to the UK, of which £1bn went directly to Scotland, supporting 19,110 years of employment in the UK during the development and construction phases.

The Duke of Rothesay officially opened the Beatrice operations and maintenance base in Wick. The town has seen a £20 million investment in its historic harbour front, including the sympathetic renovation of 200-year-old buildings originally designed by Thomas Telford.

Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, in Wick today for the official opening of the Beatrice offshore wind farm. Picture: DGS
Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, in Wick today for the official opening of the Beatrice offshore wind farm. Picture: DGS

SSE Renewables will operate the project, which will support up to 90 long-term jobs – from offshore technicians to office administrators – with the majority based in Wick.

Beatrice will also benefit the community to the tune of £34m over the lifetime of the wind farm. Two Beatrice community benefit funds, totalling £6m, have been established to deliver sustainable investment in the community including coastal towns and villages as well as the wider Highland and Moray areas.

Beatrice has paid a further £28m into a Coastal Community Fund which will be delivered by the Scottish Government.

UK Government business minister Lord Duncan said: “Wind energy provided a record-breaking 17 per cent of the UK’s electricity last year, an increase supported by sustained government investment which is enabling the sector to grow while driving down costs.

“Beatrice will support nearly 400 jobs in Scotland and today’s grand opening reinforces our world-leading credentials in seizing the economic opportunities of the global shift to a greener, cleaner future.”

Scotland's energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “I want to offer my sincere congratulations and those of the Scottish Government to everyone involved in completing the £2.5bn Beatrice offshore wind farm. At 588MW it is the largest offshore wind development in Scotland to date and can provide electricity for a huge number of homes and businesses.

"I am also very encouraged by the positive impacts the project has had, such as the regeneration of Wick harbour and the role Scottish fabricators and suppliers have played in its construction.

“In order to maximise economic opportunities a collaborative effort is required between governments and industry to ensure that our vision for a vibrant offshore wind sector in Scotland is achieved.

“There is a significant pipeline of consented projects, including two further consented sites locally, and, as we look to future licensing rounds, we will seek to fully exploit the wider offshore wind sector opportunities for the Scottish economy while showing due regard for our incredible marine environment.

"This site, in an area once the home to an active oilfield, but now home to this tremendous renewable energy development, is now a very tangible example of the global low-carbon transition that is now well under way.”

Prince Charles spoke to some of the local people who had gathered outside the Bowl offices on Harbour Quay on Monday morning. Picture: DGS
Prince Charles spoke to some of the local people who had gathered outside the Bowl offices on Harbour Quay on Monday morning. Picture: DGS

The Beatrice project is the largest ever single private investment in Scotland and was developed by SSE Renewables (40 per cent), with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (35 per cent) and Red Rock Power Limited (25 per cent).

Michael Hannibal, Partner in Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, said: “Having been part of the development and construction of Beatrice, we are pleased that this offshore wind farm is now feeding green, renewable electricity into the grid. The project will make a positive impact to the local communities, to Scotland and to the UK.

"The official opening of Beatrice today is another milestone in our offshore wind strategy, where we are developing, constructing and operating offshore wind projects globally.”

Guy Madgwick, CEO of Red Rock Power, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many people come together in Wick today and give Beatrice the recognition it deserves. The wind farm’s legacy within the local community, the Scottish supply chain and offshore wind industry for generations to come is a huge achievement and we look forward to seeing how key learnings can be applied to other developments.”

It was the icing on the cake for me to see what had been achieved, by so many, and Wick was right in the heart of it all.

Wick Harbour Authority played an integral role in attracting Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (Bowl) to the port. Harbour authority spokesman Willie Watt described Monday’s official opening as “a great day for Caithness”.

He praised the vision of SSE and Bowl in transforming a block of Telford buildings for a new purpose and a new industry.

“It is doing exactly what it was designed to do for the herring – it is producing opportunities, employment, a buzz, everything,” Mr Watt said. “It’s just magic.”

He said a lot of hard work and perseverance had been put in by the harbour board, the harbour master and the office staff. “We were at it for many years to ensure that Bowl as a potential client was provided with answers and solutions to their many questions over that time,” Mr Watt said.

“We gave them the confidence that they could operate the country’s biggest wind farm out of Wick and all that delivers in terms of apprentice opportunities, making sure our young folk stay in the town and the county, and all the jobs it will create – direct, induced and indirect.

“It was the icing on the cake for me to see what had been achieved, by so many, and Wick was right in the heart of it all.”

Claire Mack, chief executive of the industry body Scottish Renewables, said: "The scale of the Beatrice project is truly staggering – almost twice the investment of the Queensferry Crossing, the fourth largest offshore wind farm in the world, and all happening in the north of Scotland. This is quite simply the most exciting renewable energy development in the UK right now.

"Scotland has a quarter of Europe's offshore wind resource and Beatrice represents one of the first steps in tapping it. As our offshore wind projects continue to build out we'll see the environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind grow across Scotland, with jobs and investment transforming communities, as they already are in Wick.

"With the right support from government, a supply chain which is competitive on price, quality and timescales and the commitment of industry, offshore wind has a bright future in Scotland as we work towards meeting some of the world's most challenging climate change targets and building a smart energy system with renewable energy at its heart."

Jamie Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, was among those who took a boat trip to see the wind farm at close quarters.

He said: “It was a real thrill to be out there beside the turbines on opening day. They are the shape of the future.

“This construction can generate huge amounts of energy and will provide a real boost to Wick.

“We must continue to invest in clean, green and renewable energy and it’s fantastic to see Scotland leading the way.”

Beatrice is the world’s fourth largest offshore wind farm. Picture: Bowl
Beatrice is the world’s fourth largest offshore wind farm. Picture: Bowl


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