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Cromarty Firth port boss hails 50 year pipeline of ScotWind work

Port of Cromarty Firth said wind farm projects "offer many opportunities for people and businesses."
Port of Cromarty Firth said wind farm projects "offer many opportunities for people and businesses."

The Port of Cromarty Firth said the awards launching the first new offshore wind farms in Scottish waters in a decade marked a “game-changing opportunity” for the Highlands and wider Scotland.

With the majority of sites “ideally located for the firth”, the Port hailed the development of wind farms as being “expected to play a key role in securing a 50-70-year pipeline of projects in the area”.

The estimated total project value of around £26billion makes ScotWind likely to be the biggest set of infrastructure projects in the country over the next decade.

Bob Buskie, chief executive of Port of Cromarty Firth.

Chief executive Bob Buskie said: “The Port of Cromarty Firth is primed and ready to take advantage of the opportunity with the winning developers, alongside our partners in Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF), collaborating to provide a sustainable economic impact in the Highlands for years to come.

“Wind farm projects offer many opportunities for people and businesses.

“Their construction, operation and maintenance and repowering or decommissioning will bring billions of pounds of investment and new jobs to Scotland.”

Mr Buskie also highlighted the potential of the wind auction to unlock the development of green hydrogen in Scotland through the burgeoning floating wind market, providing a unique opportunity for Scotland to build up the supply chain in these burgeoning areas.

The Port of Cromarty Firth was identified as a leading location for the formation of a strategic port cluster in Scotland by the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC) last year, naming it the most suitable location in Scotland for platform fabrication and manufacture.

Major project west of Orkney

France’s TotalEnergies, in consortium with Global Investment Group and RIDG secured rights to develop a 2GW “West of Orkney Windfarm”, TotalEnergies’ largest project of its kind in Europe to date.

The project, located around 18miles off the isles, aims to start producing renewable power by 2030, which the consortium said represents potentially more than £4bn of investment.

TotalEnergies, GIG and RIDG said they will “unlock a £140million initiative” to support development of the local supply chain, including enhancement of ports and harbour infrastructure in Orkney and Caithness.

The move will ensure high levels of local content and “actively promote employment and innovation in the region”.

Once constructed, the wind farm could also deliver renewable power to the Flotta Hydrogen Hub, a large-scale green hydrogen production facility in Orkney.

The Flotta terminal. Photo Neil Davidson

Repsol Sinopec Resources UK, which operates Flotta, said this is a “significant step” towards turning those plans into a reality.

BP and partner EnBW won seabed space for the “Morven” offshore wind farm, with generating capacity of 2.9 gigawatts (GW) around 37miles off Aberdeen.

The seabed lease, around 860km2, could generate enough power for more than three million homes, with BP claiming the bid will support up to £10billion of investment in offshore wind development, skills and opportunities in hydrogen and electric vehicle charging.

Size of supply chain prize

Louise Kingham, BP’s head of UK and vice president for Europe, confirmed over 450 companies had signed up to a portal designed to engage local businesses to ensure employers benefit from the billions of investment.

BP UK head of country and senior vice president for Europe Louise Kingham.

“The prize for the supply chain with ScotWind and whatever the Crown Estate Scotland does subsequently is that there’s an opportunity to build a supply chain here at home.

“And remember it’s not just about the offshore wind, we’ve got decommissioning roles and the North Sea which is going to be busy for decades in terms of working towards a net zero basin.

“There’s a lot going on in the energy system across Scotland and off its coast and there is a real opportunity to build a home grown, sustainable supply chain.”

‘Last chance saloon’ for jobs promises

However unions warned the licenses were a “massive test” for the industry to ensure it meets pledges to create jobs.

GMB Scotland secretary Louise Gilmour said: “After the abject failure of the last decade on offshore wind manufacturing, progress will be judged on the number of jobs and scale of investment this leasing round brings to Scotland.

“But let’s be clear there are no guarantees – the list of successful applicants includes firms that have offshored tens of thousands of green manufacturing jobs to the rest of the world in previous projects.

“This is a massive test of the renewables industry’s environmental and social justice credentials, and the last chance saloon for political leaders who have promised a green jobs revolution for years.”

First leasing round in a decade

Crown Estate Scotland (CES), which owns the seabed under the Scottish coastline, announced the outcome of its application process for ScotWind leasing.

It is the first process of its kind since the management of offshore wind rights were devolved to Scotland.

A total of 17 projects, with combined capacity of 25 gigawatts (GW) were selected out of a total of 74 applications, and have now been offered option agreements which reserve the rights to specific areas of seabed.

From the successful bids, just shy of £700 million will be paid to the Scottish Government for public spending with the likes of BP, Shell and SSE Renewables having competed to build the next generation of Scottish offshore wind farms.

The 17 projects given the go ahead by CES is expected to lead to a multibillion-pound investment in local supply chain companies and the people they employ across the north and north-east of Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Photo: Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the leasing round unleased significant investment that would enable Scotland to meet net zero targets.

She said: “It allows us to make huge progress in decarbonising our energy supply – vital if we are to reduce Scotland’s emissions – while securing investment in the Scottish supply chain of at least £1 billion for every gigawatt of power.

“And because Scotland’s workers are superbly placed with transferable skills to capitalise on the transition to new energy sources, we have every reason to be optimistic about the number of jobs that can be created.”

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