SSE has thrown its support behind the creation of the UK’s largest offshore turbine tower manufacturing plant at Nigg through a £15 million debt investment.
The facility, which will create 400 direct full-time manufacturing jobs, was announced this morning with a total investment of between £110 million and £120 million anticipated.
The Nigg Offshore Wind (Now) facility will be capable of manufacturing up to 135 next-generation offshore wind towers each year.
Creation of the facility comes after a financial investment decision was taken by Global Energy Group and Haizea Wind Group.
The innovative factory design will integrate cutting-edge robotics and welding inspection technology originally developed for the offshore oil and gas industry.
The factory’s creation is pivotal to meeting the UK’s goal of 40GW of offshore wind target by 2030.
Two years in the making
The announcement marks the culmination of over two years of close planning between SSE’s development business SSE Renewables, Global Energy Group and Haizea Wind Group to make the new facility a reality.
Now will be a giant, 1500ft-long factory, capable of rolling steel plate to supply towers in excess of 1,000 tonnes each and other products, to the booming UK offshore fixed and floating wind industry in the UK and abroad.
SSE has said it will be placing manufacturing orders with the new facility from its pipeline of UK renewable projects.
The firm’s multi-million-pound debt investment makes it the largest single UK backer behind plans.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE said: “Today’s announcement shows that SSE is willing to put its money where its mouth is to support development of the Scottish manufacturing capability for the offshore wind sector.
“We have worked with Global Energy Group and stakeholders for over two years to get to this point.
“Global Energy Group has exciting plans for a world-class tower factory at Port of Nigg and our investment in the planned manufacturing facility demonstrates our continuing commitment to do what we can to support the development of a competitive Scottish supply chain and create local jobs.
“In addition to the debt funding, SSE also looks forward to fulfilling its role as a strategic backer and placing orders with the factory to meet our growing offshore wind pipeline in the near future.
“SSE is in a unique position with projects of scale, such as Dogger Bank and Berwick Bank, to create sustainable, long-term supply chain opportunities such as at Nigg and the new GE blade factory in Teesside.”
Other partners joining the trio in the funding syndicate include senior debt provider Sequoia Infrastructure Debt Fund (SIDF), as well as Mainstream Renewable Power.
‘Bold, collective action’ required
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hailed the facility describing it as a “significant investment” in Scotland’s energy sector.
She said: “We need bold, collective action to tackle the global climate emergency, and the growth of our renewables sector over the next ten years will be truly transformative, helping to deliver a just transition to net zero and a greener, fairer future for us all.
“This significant investment in Scotland’s energy sector is testament to the skills, expertise and innovation within our industry.
“We are delighted to financially support this cutting edge offshore wind towers facility, through Highlands and Islands Enterprise, as it reaches this significant milestone, that will deliver high value, green jobs and bring multiple benefits to communities across the Highlands and beyond while playing a pivotal role in delivering offshore renewables growth in Scotland and further afield.”
Work to begin in January
The new facility is expected to create opportunities for those in the oil and gas industry to transition into renewables.
The project is due to enter construction in January 2022, subject to reaching financial close by year-end.
Site preparation, construction and commissioning is expected to take around 18 months.
Approximately 1,248 full-time equivalent job years will be supported across the supply chain in building works and equipment supply.
SSE claim the world-class, Scottish-based turbine component factory, which expects first production of towers in 2023, will put offshore wind to the forefront of the Scottish and UK green economic recovery.
Nigg factory can be ‘leading example’
Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Global Energy Group, said: “The announcement today of a state-of-the-art tower rolling factory at the Port of Nigg can and will be a leading example of the ‘green recovery’ in action.
“We have to acknowledge the immense financial, technical and commercial support we have received from SSE Renewables who have worked tirelessly with us for the past two years to make this dream a reality.
“Without the support of SSE, this factory would not be built.
“We will now look to repay the faith they have in us by creating an indigenous supply chain that will be the envy of Europe.”
The new facility is the most significant localisation of offshore wind supply chain manufacturing ever seen in Scotland and the UK.
Funding for the project has also come from the Scottish Government via Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Support is also being provided by the UK Government via the offshore wind manufacturing investment support scheme (OWMIS).