In an open letter to Kate Forbes (Scottish Finance Secretary) and Michael Gove (UK Levelling Up Minister), a group of renewable energy developers has urged the Government to back the Inverness and Cromarty Firth bid for Green Freeport status.
Dear Mr Gove and Ms Forbes,
The UK Government’s recent Energy Security Strategy outlined several bold plans, including a five-fold increase in offshore wind capacity by 2030, a world-leading target of 5GW of floating wind and rapid industry investment in electrifying offshore production of oil and gas to reduce our emissions, which also requires floating offshore wind technology.
Floating offshore wind is in its infancy but accounts for some 80% of the world’s offshore wind potential. The UK has an opportunity to be a world leader in the manufacture of this technology and the UK’s own requirement stands at some 20GW by the mid-2030s in Scotland alone.
Making the most of this opportunity means maximising the UK share of this manufacturing pipeline and taking every opportunity to reduce costs through synergies and innovation, which means lower long term green energy bills for the UK.
The Offshore Wind Sector Deal targeted a 60% local content. The latest supply chain submissions from the industry put the potential value of maximising UK content at £2.0bn per GW – i.e. a total of some £40bn by the mid-2030s off Scotland alone, with more to follow as the UK moves to net zero by 2050.
The Cromarty Firth has the overwhelming endorsement of industry, government and in independent studies as the only location in Scotland with the land space, some of the deepest waters and quaysides in the UK, sheltered anchorage locations, and a cluster of best-in-class companies and facilities, combined with the proximity to the windfarm sites that can deliver these ambitions for floating wind at the scale required, compete with established facilities abroad, and create the associated well-paid, sustainable jobs and opportunities for people and businesses across Scotland and the UK. This translates into £0.9-1.3bn per GW of UK manufacturing content that only the Cromarty Firth can deliver (equivalent to £18-26bn by the mid-2030’s). The location also offers the best path to lower costs and thus lower UK fuel bills.
Whilst the (Green) Freeports programme may not have been designed to be the UK’s most powerful tool in delivering this local content, the scale of the investment incentives on offer, and their timing (just as the industry needs to gear up to deliver the UK pipeline) means this is what they have become. Freeports in
Humber and Teesside are demonstrating just what can be achieved for the UK economy, but only with the benefit of Freeport investment incentives alongside the UK’s offshore wind grant regime. New offshore wind manufacturing in Scotland will be similarly dependent.
This means that the forthcoming Green Freeport decisions in Scotland look set to decide the future of UK offshore wind manufacturing, and floating wind in particular, including in terms of the critical question of UK content.
The establishment of a Green Freeport in the Highlands would provide the opportunity for once-in-a- lifetime transformational change; projected to create 25,000 high-quality, fair, green jobs and over £6bn in GVA; meeting the Scottish and UK governments’ regeneration, trade and investment and net zero objectives. The region is uniquely placed to benefit the whole of the UK through energy security, trade and investment, lower cost electricity and a faster, more just transition to net zero.
The ports of Invergordon and Nigg in the Cromarty Firth have supported more offshore wind projects than any other Scottish ports. The £2.5bn 588MW Beatrice, £2.6bn 1GW Moray East, and £3bn 1GW Seagreen offshore windfarms were constructed and marshalled from the Firth, which has also already supported two floating windfarm projects, Hywind and Kincardine.
With partners at Port of Inverness, this region has stored and handled hundreds of onshore windfarm components and will play a critical role in doubling the UK’s electricity storage capacity through pumped storage. Supported by Green Freeport status, the largest onshore green hydrogen electrolyser is also scheduled to begin production in 2024; resolving some of the grid constraint issues and producing clean energy that can be easily transported around the country and exported abroad.
The local economy has the capacity to support a Green Freeport, through its skills base and the strength of key industries relevant for growing the clean energy sector and other key growth sectors. Inverness and Cromarty Firth’s dedicated skills and innovation vehicle, The PowerHouse, has the backing of industry and recently completed its first research project for the Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Competition.
As developers of this critical infrastructure, the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport bid has our full confidence. We fully support the development of, and are committed to investing in, this region.
Offshore wind developer members of the OCF consortium represent 100% of the ScotWind floating wind sites in the east sector, 100% of the fixed and floating sites in the northeast sector, plus the 2GW fixed N1 site. This represents 12 of the 17 awarded sites and 13GW of the 14.6GW of the awarded floating offshore
wind pipeline in Scotland that will be constructed over the coming decades. We call on Government to demonstrate your own commitment to the policies you have created and to back this historic opportunity to build a better, greener, more prosperous Scotland and UK.
Yours sincerely,Ocean Winds, ScottishPower Renewables, Orsted, Storegga, Fred. Olsen 1848, Falck Renewables, BlueFloat Energy, Floating Energy Allyance, West of Orkney Windfarm, Shell, SSE Renewables, Mara Mhor Offshore Wind Farm, and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners