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Ross-shire hoping to cash in on multimillion-pound wind deal

By Hector MacKenzie

A REVOLUTION in the role of offshore wind energy across the UK could help generate jobs in Ross-shire for years to come and see the area reap rewards for tens of millions of pounds of investment.

Hopes are high that a track record established by the Port of Cromarty Firth in Invergordon and the Global Energy Group at Nigg for delivering the goods for multi-million pound wind energy projects will stand the area in good stead to tap into ambitious UK Government plans unveiled yesterday.

The plans foresee a third of all British electricity being produced by offshore wind power by 2030 with the UK setting its sights on becoming a global leader in renewables.

The global offshore wind energy market is expected to be worth £30 billion a year by then.

The deal will mean that for the first time in history, there will be more electricity from renewables than fossil fuels, with 70 per cent of British electricity predicted to be from low carbon sources by 2030. The sector is expected to support 27,000 jobs by then.

A spokeswoman for the Port of Cromarty Firth in Invergordon, currently involved in a £10 million, 18-month contract with the Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) Ltd, said: "I think we are in a pretty strong position because of our record. We're expecting the UK Government to attach some funding to this announcement and allow people to bid into it.

"You have to prove yourself first and we are confident we have done that."

Cromarty Firth councillor Carolyn Wilson told the Journal the area is well poised to tap into the deal. She said: "This is an exciting opportunity for the Highlands in general and Invergordon and Nigg in particular.

"I see no reason why we can't work to create sustainable employment for this area. A lot of investment has been made to prepare for this so the area is in a good position."

Gavin Mackay, head of energy industries at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "We are delighted to see the sector deal for the offshore wind industry which demonstrates the scale of industrial and economic opportunity.

"The Highlands and Islands region is already seeing the benefits that offshore wind can bring to communities with large investments being made in places such as Campbeltown, Arnish, Invergordon and Wick.

"New, long-term and sustainable jobs are being created as well as investment in infrastructure which has seen successes in the construction and load out of projects. The sector is growing apace, and this announcement further reinforces the belief that offshore wind can play a major role in the continuing decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity supply and in meeting ambitious climate change targets."

Referring to a Northern Cluster drive to tap the potential, he told the Journal: "Analysis by industry and offshore wind project developers including EDPR and SSE has identified the organic development of an established cluster of expertise with a deep water offshore wind specialism in the North of Scotland.

"World class facilities and supply chain have enabled and driven deep water world firsts such as the Beatrice Demonstrator, the Hywind and Kincardine floating projects, European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre off Aberdeen, Beatrice and Moray East offshore wind farms which together will be the world’s largest concentration of deep water fixed bottom offshore wind and future leasing rounds in even deeper waters off the Scottish coast.

"Although still at the concept stage, we believe there is real merit in finding new ways for industry , academia, supply chain and Government agencies to collaborate and secure more from this massive, global opportunity and will work with industry and partners to help shape proposals."

Bob Buskie, chief executive of Port of Cromarty Firth, said the recent Moray wind farm deal "demonstrated once again we can successfully compete with international competition and attract these major infrastructure projects to our area".

He said: "It will attract jobs and investment for the coming years; offering countless opportunities to local people and businesses."

What do you think about the prospects for Ross-shire? Email newsdesk@spp-group.com

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