SCOTLAND now has the ability to become a global leader in floating offshore wind following the announcement of major new investments in the sector.

ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson hailed the development of two new ground-breaking wind farms.

Instead of being attached to the seabed, they will float on the surface of the water – something that opens up many more square miles of sea to development.

The company was awarded the rights to develop the two floating wind farms, the first of their kind in the world, in a new round of awards from Crown Estate Scotland.

Contracts worth close to £700 million were awarded to 17 projects, of which ScottishPower is developing three.

Other companies with contracts include Shell, SSE and BP.

Interactive map: Where the 17 ScotWind projects will be based

The announcement was also welcomed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who explained that the projects will lead to billions in additional investment.

She tweeted: "The £700m is just the revenue to @scotgov from the lease options. The wider economic benefit will be much bigger - an estimated £1 billion in supply chain investment for every 1GW of power generated. A truly historic opportunity for in energy, environmental and economic terms."

Anderson said: "What Scotland has done literally overnight is that it has made industrialisation and commercialisation of floating offshore wind a reality.

“So what has up until now been largely a prototype and R&D [research and development] exercise, the announcements today make it a reality.”

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He added: “We now lead offshore floating wind. No one else is looking to do anything like this, so we become the world leader in the development of the technology."

“What that in turn means is that every company that wants to have a future in floating offshore wind … you need to get your backside to Scotland and start investing and getting involved in these projects.”

Below is a map of the 17 sites that were awarded as part of the ScotWind auction

He said that the price of building floating wind turbines will rapidly be brought down, outpacing the massive cost reductions that regular offshore wind has shown in recent decades.

Anderson continued: “What we need to do with floating now is to put all of our efforts and focus on massively driving down the cost of mass manufacture of floating foundations.

“If we’ve only got that one area to focus on, we can really pour all of the innovation into that one area and we can drive the cost down really quickly.”