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Nigg and Invergordon ideally placed to serve Scotland's offshore renewables sector, study finds

By Calum MacLeod

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The MHI Boldwind brings Moray East wind farm turbine components to the Moray Firth.
The MHI Boldwind brings Moray East wind farm turbine components to the Moray Firth.

The Cromarty Firth has been confirmed as the ideal location to support Scotland's rapidly expanding offshore wind sector.

The Independent Port Enhancement Study, produced for Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Crown Estate Scotland, identifies the Cromarty Firth is the best location to capitalise on the significant opportunities stemming from Scotland’s future offshore wind market.

The Firth has a number of advantages, including its existing port and laydown facilities, capacity and feasibility for expansion, and proximity to future development sites.

It comes after an earlier Crown Estate Scotland report published last year stated that port facilities at Invergordon and Nigg would be vital in helping to support a major expansion in the nation’s offshore wind industry – which will be pivotal for Scotland in meeting its net zero targets by 2045.

In particular the report highlights the Cromarty Firth’s “long-term potential” to support the construction and deployment phases of future Scottish offshore development zones, including the latest ScotWind Leasing round, the majority of which are on its doorstep. Such activity would create major supply chain and employment opportunities locally, while allowing Scotland to compete with existing UK and European facilities.

The report also emphasises the requirement for port alliances and clustering activity, in order to provide the offshore wind industry with ‘whole project’ solutions. Once again the Cromarty Firth remains a step ahead, as such partnerships have already been established through the collaborative work of Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF). Amongst its members, the OCF initiative features four key infrastructure facilities; Port of Cromarty Firth, Port of Nigg, Port of Inverness and Highland Deephaven.

Jackets for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm (BOWL) await installation at the Port of Cromarty Firth.
Jackets for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm (BOWL) await installation at the Port of Cromarty Firth.

Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “This report is great news for the Cromarty Firth and the Highlands. Scotland is on the cusp of a green energy revolution and with our leading port facilities, there is nowhere in the country better placed to take advantage of this seismic shift in energy generation.

“This has been built on a track record of success within the offshore energy industry stretching back more than 40 years. During that period, the Port has worked hard to develop a world-class supply chain and a highly skilled workforce. Coupled with that, the Port has recently invested more than £50 million in the facilities at Invergordon, which have played an integral role in the Beatrice, Moray East and Kincardine offshore wind developments.

“Our facilities include significant open laydown capacity, deep-water berths and sheltered anchorages, suitable for accommodating the largest offshore wind components, such as turbine blades, tower sections and foundations, as well as the biggest offshore installation and support vessels.

“Being a Trust Port, where all of our profits are reinvested into the Port’s development, gives us huge scope to develop our facilities further and we are investigating new plans to substantially increase our capacity further.

“These fresh plans will further open up the Cromarty Firth to supporting a host of major windfarm projects earmarked in offshore areas both close to us geographically and further afield.”

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