Scotland Up In Arms About Offshore Wind Profits

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By Paul Homewood

FOREIGN governments including China and overseas firms with interests in Scotland’s offshore wind farm revolution are already enjoying more than £200m in annual profits, the Herald on Sunday can reveal.

Ministers have come under fire for failing to properly cash in on the seven farms that are operating and three major schemes that are in advanced stages of development which together according to energy firms will have 5GW of installed capacity – enough to power double the 2.7m homes in Scotland.

There is concern that governments in China and the United Arab Emirates which have presided over human rights concerns are among the beneficiaries of Scotland’s green revolution.

In just their last full financial year, together offshore wind farms have made over £230m in profits.

The “astonishing” array of state government-controlled firms that are making millions from having a key stake in Scotland’s collection of offshore wind farms also include France, Norway, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland. The Scottish Government has no stake in any company reaping the green rewards, even though it is in the nation’s waters that the farms are being constructed..

Controlling interests are also being held by privately-owned energy firms in Germany, Spain, Holland and Japan.

The Scottish Government is being criticised for its failure to set up a publicly-owned energy company saying it did not have the powers – while Wales is developing a similar plan.

Campaigners have long called for the establishment of a state-owned company which would have owned energy resources, to provide secure, reliable and low-cost retail energy to households and to ensure there were renewable energy supply chain and manufacturing jobs for Scotland.

It is felt by some that the failure to create a state-owned energy company has meant that the nation has lost its grip of the profits of Scotland’s green revolution.

The Scottish Government believes that offshore wind farms will help complete Scotland’s journey to net zero, creating thousands of jobs in the process and that it has the potential to position the nation as a major exporter of renewable energy, including green hydrogen.

Fair energy prices campaigner Kenny MacAskill, the MP the for East Lothian and Alba Party deputy leader who has been keeping a close eye on offshore wind development said he was seriously concerned at Scotland’s failure to have ownership of the offshore wind revolution but this was compounded by concerns that nations with serious human rights issues have some control.

“It’s galling enough that state energy companies from the likes of France, Sweden and even Ireland have ownership of Scotland’s natural bounty. But what makes that even worse is that States with appalling human rights records whether China or the UAE also have our assets. There’s neither consideration for Scotland’s economic needs nor basic human rights in other lands.

“What should benefit our own folk in this energy crisis has been given to those who treat their own folk appallingly. This is a failure on all counts and to our own and other people.”

The Chinese government has a key interest in two of Scotland’s offshore wind farms, including the second biggest of Scotland’s fully operational offshore wind farms – the 84-turbine Beatrice wind farm off the Caithness coast which began operations three years ago.

Through its State-Owned Assets Supervision And Administration Commission Of China company it has control of Beatrice Wind Limited (BWL) which holds a 25% stake in the farm which made has made total profits of nearly £200m over the last three years.

BWL received dividends totalling nearly £60m between 2020 and 2022 through its shareholding. A dividend is a payment a company can make to shareholders if it has made a profit.

The biggest operating offshore wind farm, Moray East, which came online last year is controlled by a combination of private companies based in Spain, Holland and Japan. It made an £87.1m in profit in 2021.

Politicians like Kenny MacAskill seem to think that because wind is free Scotland should reap the rewards. He does not seem to realise that all of these foreign companies he complains about actually invested billions into building their wind farms.

If he was really concerned about high power prices and “profiteering”, maybe he should direct his ire towards the obscene subsidies paid to renewable generators.