TWO hundred jobs will be created at Kishorn’s dry dock in Wester Ross during the construction of the world’s largest floating wind farm.
The dock will come out of a 23-year long hibernation following a new deal to use the site to help build the floating turbines for Kincardine Offshore’s development of eight turbines off the coast of Aberdeen.
It was last used to work on the Skye Bridge in 1994 and is one of the largest in Western Europe.
The exclusivity agreement between Kishorn Port Ltd and Kincardine Offshore, which was signed on Friday, means work will start at the site in August, with the first turbine of the 50MW array expected to be in the water in the second quarter of 2018.
Director of the project, Carlos Barat, said: "This is a significant development for the people of Kishorn and will directly lead to the creation of up to 200 much-needed jobs in the area.
"We are proud that we are able to support local business as we progress towards bringing this important development forward.
"The agreement to use Kishorn dry dock will herald a new era for offshore renewables and, of course, for this area as the terrific potential this facility offers the country is realised."
Simon Russell, a director of Kishorn Port Limited, said: "In signing this deal, Kincardine has demonstrated the significant strategic and technical strength of Kishorn’s dry dock.
"The combination of Leith’s on-site quarry at Kishorn with one of the largest dry docks in Western Europe makes the yard an ideal location for manufacturing large concrete structures.
"This, combined with the expertise of Ferguson Transport and Shipping in operating and managing the port, will breathe new life into an area that has suffered for many years from a lack of commercial investment."
Kishorn port was historically an oil and gas fabrication yard, used for the casting of the 600,000-tonne Ninian Central platform in the late 1970s.
The last time the port’s two 13,000 tonne dock gates were moved was in 1994, when the two concrete foundation caissons for the Skye Bridge were floated out.
The agreement with Kincardine Offshore will see Kishorn Port used for the fabrication of the semi-spar substructure for the 6MW turbines, which will operate 15km off the coast of Kincardineshire.
When in operation, the development will prevent 94,500 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere every year.
Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse, who attended the ceremony, said: "I am delighted to be here in Kishorn to witness the signing of the exclusivity agreement between Kishorn Port Ltd and the team developing the Kincardine Offshore wind farm - a key, newly consented floating offshore wind farm.
"This agreement paves the way for work to begin at Kishorn for the first time in 25 years, constructing the Kincardine Floating Offshore Wind Farm, which will produce enough electricity to power almost 56,000 homes.
"As outlined in our new draft Energy Strategy, both fixed and floating offshore wind technologies are set to take an increasingly important role in the generation of renewable electricity.
"With 25 per cent of Europe’s offshore wind potential, and through development with due regard to our natural environment, Scotland is strongly positioned to maximise the economic and environmental benefits that both technologies can deliver.
"The Scottish Government is determined to ensure projects deliver supply chain jobs in communities across Scotland and we have been encouraging developers to do all they can to maximise their economic impact, so today’s agreement is very welcome."
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has invested £158,932 in the £450,000 costs of upgrading the dry dock in readiness for new contracts.
HIE’s area manager for Skye, Lochaber and Wester Ross, Robert Muir, said: "It is great to see Kishorn coming to life again. The dock has huge potential, not just for renewables, but for oil and gas and aquaculture too.
"The site will provide valuable rural jobs and contribute to both economic and community growth, and wider competitiveness of the region. We very much welcome this milestone today."
Once completed, power from Kincardine Offshore will be brought ashore to an Aberdeen operations centre and will connect to the grid at Redmoss sub-station.
Kishorn Port Ltd is a joint venture between Ferguson Transport (Spean Bridge) Ltd and Leiths (Scotland) Ltd.
Located on the north west coast of Scotland, Kishorn Port and Dry Dock is the ideal site for the manufacturing, laydown and assembly of renewable energy devices for offshore wind, wave and tidal sectors as well as oil and gas and decommissioning.