GLASGOW, Scotland: In a move that surprised the market and was welcomed by environmentalists, Scotland has awarded the rights for major offshore wind development projects, which are more than double the UK's current capacity.
The capacity of the winning projects in the tender is nearly 25 gigawatts, far higher than the 10 gigawatts that Scottish authorities initially anticipated.
The projects could help provide clean power for cars, home heating and factories, which will drive a doubling of electricity demand over the next three decades, said officials.
The Scottish government will receive some $955 million in fees from the applicants.
Offshore wind power is considered a crucial "home-grown" source of clean electricity that can reduce the UK's reliance on fossil fuels, and help achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
According to UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the energy price crunch caused by surging gas prices has highlighted the need to focus on developing renewable energy.
Keith Anderson, chief executive officer of Iberdrola SA's Scottish Power unit, which won leases for the most capacity of any developer, said the move is a "massive step forward in getting Scotland to net-zero by 2045 and the UK to net-zero by 2050," as quoted by Yahoo Finance.
"The 25-gigawatt capacity announced this morning speaks to the ambition for the future of UK wind, but there are certainly hurdles ahead in achieving this sizable output," said Gavin Watson, a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, reports Yahoo Finance.
Iberdrola won rights for some 7,000 megawatts, including sites it plans to build with Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Along with BP and EnBW, other major winners included Falck Renewables SpA and SSE Plc.
"This announcement marks a colossal step forward in UK offshore wind delivery," said Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK's policy director, according to Yahoo Finance.
The contest highlighted the competition between utilities and big oil companies to develop the giant green energy sites in Scotland.
When they become operational, planned for the end of the decade, the winning projects will generate enough electricity to power millions of British homes, said company officials.