Shell and Iberdrola have joined forces in a bid to develop large-scale floating wind farms off Scotland, jointly entering the ScotWind leasing round for new offshore wind rights.

Shell and ScottishPower, the local unit of the Spain-based Iberdrola, submitted multiple proposals to the Crown Estate Scotland under ScotWind, which seeks to spur up to 10 gigawatts of fixed and floating wind.

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Thursday's announcement by the oil and power heavyweights came the same day bids were due to close for the offshore leasing round.

The partners said floating wind is “a technology that is poised to scale up, is suitable for use in deeper-water zones where fixed foundations aren’t feasible making it ideal for Scottish waters”.

As well as bringing its offshore oil and gas experience, Shell has been active in emerging floating wind technologies, buying French pioneer Eolfi in 2019 and joining the partnership commercialising the TetraSpar platform designed by Stiesdal Offshore Technology. Shell in June joined a consortium to bid for fixed and floating wind rights off Norway later this year.

Iberdrola, among the world's biggest power utilities, is one of the largest fixed-bottom offshore wind developers globally with plans to have 12GW in the water by 2030, and has already installed large-scale projects off England and Germany. As well as massive worldwide fixed-foundation expansion, it has already set its sights on floating opportunities off its home market of Spain and elsewhere.

ScottishPower chief executive, Keith Anderson said: “Scotland is the windiest country in Europe and has the biggest and most experienced offshore sector. Bringing ScottishPower and Shell’s collective knowledge, experience and expertise together means we’re perfectly placed to lead the way in developing large-scale offshore floating wind farms.”

Shell UK Country Chair, David Bunch added: “If our bid is successful, Shell and SPR are fully committed to working with Scottish communities and businesses to help develop supply chains and expertise which could make Scotland a world leader in floating wind.”

As ScotWind prepares to close its doors for entry, the Shell-Iberdrola team is the latest in a string of high-profile partnerships that include the likes of TotalEnergies, BP, Eni, Orsted, Ocean Winds, Equinor and Vattenfall, as well as several pioneers of floating wind platform technology.

Scotland in January opened the gates for ScotWind, the first offshore wind tender to be administered from Holyrood and widely seen as a key accelerant in the development of the sector in the North Sea, with expectations the tender could uncork a $11.5bn wave of investment in the regional industry as some 10GW of new plant is built.

The result of the tender is expected late this year or in early 2022.

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(This article first appeared in Upstream's renewable energy sister publication Recharge on 15 July, 2021.)