The Transport Infrastructure Needs of Scotland's Renewable Energy Plans and Opportunities for Funding Major Transport Schemes

The Transport Infrastructure Needs of Scotland's Renewable Energy Plans and Opportunities for Funding Major Transport Schemes


M AL-Azzawi, URS/Scott Wilson, UK


Assesses the new Transport Infrastructure needed to help delivery Govt's Renewable Energy plans across Scotland. It identifies the costs needed and funding contributions from energy companies. Presents methods to help finance transport investment.


The Scottish Government has published its National Renewable Energy Investment Plan (N-RIP) which sets out areas across the whole of Scotland which have been targeted for the development of the offshore renewables energy industry. The Government has committed targets to increasing the share of renewable energy from its current level of 4% to 20% by 2020. This will mean increasing energy developed from renewable sources to approximately 6GW from offshore wind in Scotland as a whole. It will require vast investment in both energy facilities and associated transport infrastructure, since many of the areas targeted for development have limited capability to meet the industries needs or have constrained transport infrastructure. In Scottish Territorial Waters alone capital expenditure is estimated to be from £15bn to £18bn by 2020.

Hence, the renewable energy sector is an economic growth opportunity that can bring significant benefits to many areas of Scotland. To take this opportunity forward the N-RIP has identified locations where offshore windfarms are to be implemented. However, little attention had been given to the transport infrastructure needs of these areas, and in particular how the industry would use them. This includes roads, ports, railway lines and associated locations for the construction and maintenance of large-scale offshore windfarms.

URS/Scott Wilson has worked with a number of energy companies over the years and has developed a clear understanding of the needs of the industry. In addition, we have studied the proposals set out in the N-RIP and assessed the transport infrastructure needs for all the main sites allocated in Scotland. We have identified necessary proposals to enhance existing ports, roads and rail facilities to accommodate the large freight transport movements to the planned sites and also developed proposals for new infrastructure at locations which currently have limited or no adequate facilities. These have been developed to outline design and costed to over £1billion in new transport investment. This paper will present the identified transport requirements, set against a spatial strategy which targets the key areas across Scotland. This is then collated into an Action Plan with the required timing aspects to facilitate the development of the N-RIP sites as they come on-stream. The Action Plan helps to demonstrate the projects required in advance of the main construction works for offshore windfarm facilities and outlines the annual levels of expenditure needed in order to meet the committed targets by 2020.

Given the current economic climate, the renewable energy sector is a prime opportunity to provide funding to implement these transport improvements which will also provide benefits to the wider society. This paper will then describe the funding contributions which can reasonably be claimed from the various windfarm sites as the franchises are let to the various bidding energy companies. The paper sets out the process used to quantify and allocate the funding contributions from each site and the investment broken down by different transport modes in addition to the network total as a whole.

The final part of the paper will discuss various funding mechanisms which have been applied elsewhere to provide financial support. This includes Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and new, innovative methods involving private fund management sources. The paper shows how they can be tailored to reflect the characteristics of the transport infrastructure elements in the context of the renewable energy sector. Various costs/benefits assessments and economic appraisals on a sample of the N-RIP sites are used to demonstrate the key differences in the levels of return which may be expected.


Association for European Transport