SCOTLAND could be due another North Sea boom after bids were approved for offshore wind farms capable of generating more than twice the country's electricity needs.

It's been 10 years since renewables firms had the chance to bid for a slice of the Crown Estate waters.

It was hoped that the bidding round would lead to the installation of projects capable of a 10gigawatt (10gw) output.

Instead, 17 projects with a combined 25gw potential have been approved in a £700 million sale.

READ MORE: Home truths on the challenge to make Scotland a net zero nation

Funds raised will be channelled to the Scottish Government and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the "scale of opportunity here is truly historic".

She said: "ScotWind puts Scotland at the forefront of the global development of offshore wind, represents a massive step forward in our transition to net zero, and will help deliver the supply chain investments and high quality jobs that will make the climate transition a fair one."

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The Scottish Government expects to secure at least £1 billion of investment in the Scottish supply chain for every gigawatt of power. Sturgeon says the workforce is "superbly placed with transferable skills to capitalise on the transition to new energy sources" and "people working right now in the oil and gas sector in the North East of Scotland can be confident of opportunities for their future".

She went on: "While it is not yet possible to say with certainty what the scale of development will ultimately be, there is no doubt that the scale of this opportunity is transformational - both for our environment and the economy."

The projects include a £144m floating farm and fixed wind scheme by Scottish Power Renewables, an £86m floating installation from Shell New Energies and two others from BP Alternative Energy Investments and SSE Renewables worth almost the same amount.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has compared the sale to the "black gold" rush of the 1970s' oil boom. It says the economic impact "could be similar" and hailed the potential for Scotland to become an exporter of offshore wind technology beyond 2030.

Chief executive Stuart Black said: "Having the bulk of these projects in the Highland and Islands emphasises the natural advantages of our region, which will be firmly at the forefront of global offshore wind development.

"As a result, we can expect many new, highly skilled offshore wind-related jobs to be created in some of our more rural and island communities. We believe the economic impacts of the offshore wind industry will be along similar lines to what we saw 40 or so years ago with oil and gas developments and will help create the conditions for a just transition for both the Highlands and Islands, and the climate.

READ MORE: ScotWind: Big day for renewables as wind auction results are revealed

"The sheer scale of what has been announced today will accelerate the development of our industries of the future such as green hydrogen production from offshore wind, creating further new, green, fair work in our island and coastal communities."

Scottish Greens energy spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: "This is the biggest industrial opportunity Scotland has had for decades and unlike with what happened previously, comes with guaranteed jobs in the supply chain.

"For years the Scottish Greens have talked about the need for a green industrial strategy that can pave the way beyond the era of oil and gas, and with Greens in government this announcement is a significant step forward.

"The Scottish Greens are committed to ensuring this green industrial revolution is delivered in a way that has a positive impact on the marine environment, with investment in mitigating any negative impacts."

Fabrice Leveque, climate and energy lead at WWF Scotland said: "These results are a big vote of confidence in renewable power and Scotland’s green economy.

"Offshore wind has a vital role to play in helping to cut our climate emissions, and is already powering hundreds of thousands of Scottish homes.

READ MORE: Scotland made almost a quarter of all the UK's renewable energy in 2020

"As we electrify more of our transport system and change how we heat our homes and buildings, it’s only right we continue to harness the power of this natural resource right on our doorstep. Each of these projects could create hundreds of jobs and will have a role in helping put Scotland on a path to a green recovery."

However, there was scepticism about the value of the ScotWind licensing round from Kenny MacAskill MP of the Alba Party, who compared it to "selling the family silver cheap".

He said: "Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it. It looks like the Scottish Government have surrendered vast chunks of the North Sea wind resource for a relative pittance just as Westminster gave away Scotland’s oil in the 1970s.

"Instead of a one off payment of under £700m there should be annual payments. Instead of Scottish resources being just handed over to international investment companies there should be a public stake in every single field.

"One has to question the basic competence of Crown Estate Scotland. They think they have auctioned away 10-12gw of power. Informed industry estimates are the real capacity from this round alone is double that.

"Offshore wind is fast becoming the most lucrative major power source on the planet. Scotland has one quarter of the resource of Europe. It will be cold comfort to Scottish pensioners shivering in their homes facing vast fuel bills to know that the Scottish Government have given away so much of the green power of the future for so little in return."

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And Richard Hardy, national secretary for Scotland of the prospect trade union, responding to Monday's ScotWind announcement, said: "It's vital that the money generated by today's ScotWind announcements is used to address the jobs and training needs of a just transition if the Scottish Government is genuine about creating a 'renewables revolution'.

"We have seen decades of governments failing to deliver on job promises in the renewable sector. It's not good for Scotland or Scottish workers if the main beneficiaries of today's announcement are factories and workers in the Middle East, China and Indonesia, something we have seen all too frequently in the past.

"Scottish workers want to see a Just Transition into a renewable future with high quality jobs rooted in the fair work agenda, now is the time for the Scottish Government to step up to the plate and deliver."