New offshore wind development areas identified
An official report has identified potential new areas for future offshore wind development in Scotland's waters.
Scottish government directorate Marine Scotland Science outlined areas of shallow waters suitable for existing technologies.
Its scoping report also suggested deepwater locations which could used for emerging offshore technologies.
They included areas off Shetland, the Firths of Forth and Tay, Orkney, North and South Minch and the Solway region.
The Scottish government said the new locations could support 10 gigawatts of development in addition to plans already in place for 10 gigawatts of offshore wind around Scotland.
The report will be followed by a more detailed study to provide industry, including those in the supply chain, with information which could assist in locating their activities in Scotland.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "We will now produce a revised plan in 2013 to better understand the waters around Scotland and provide developers with the confidence to move to the next stage of project development in Scottish waters."
The report came as Energy Minister Fergus Ewing told the European Wind Energy Association offshore wind conference in Amsterdam that offshore wind could support almost 50,000 direct and indirect jobs in Scotland by 2020, generating over £7bn for the economy.
He said: "With an estimated 25% of Europe's offshore wind resource, Scotland is the place to come and do business and reap the massive benefits of new offshore wind development and deployment.
"We have demonstrated our commitment with an ambitious but achievable target of the equivalent of 100% of Scotland's electricity needs coming from renewables by 2020."
Mr Ewing also announced a new £5m offshore renewables research and development programme, using European Regional Development Funds.
He said the programme, to be taken forward by Scottish Enterprise, would help minimise costs and risks offshore by supporting research and development, prototype development, innovation and commercialisation activities involving small and medium-sized enterprises.
Meanwhile, Scottish company NGenTec announced plans at the offshore wind conference to build and test generator technology designed to produce maximum energy at minimum cost.
The Edinburgh-based firm, which designs and supplies permanent magnet generators for wind turbines, is to build a full-scale prototype generator in partnership with global gearing company David Brown Gear Systems (DBGS).
The prototype, a 1MW section - six of which can be stacked along the shaft of a turbine to create a 6MW machine - will be built and tested at DBGS's development facility in Huddersfield.
NGenTec said the technology had already been successfully tested in three scaled-down prototypes, one of which was tested on a wind turbine.