Opportunity Cromarty Firth News

Open Letter from Industry to Government

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

Highlands in Line for Multi-product Manufacturing Facility for Offshore Renewables

To meet the requirements of Scotland’s burgeoning offshore renewables sector, Global Energy Group (GEG), a member of the OCF consortium, has announced a milestone at the Port of Nigg and the proposed development of a rolled tubular manufacturing facility at the site.

The proposal will create a majority UK owned and operated manufacturing rolling facility, with GEG proposed as majority operator of the site. The announcement highlights GEG’s commitment to the enhanced rolled multi-product demand in the area. Working with strategic partners, the company is developing a revised business case as primary operator of the site, with a combined focus on supporting both the development of floating offshore wind technology as well as wind turbine towers.

It is anticipated that The Cromarty Firth and Port of Nigg will play a critical role in providing the manufacturing skills and knowhow in order to deliver renewables technology required following the ScotWind leasing for offshore wind farms, as well as the development of the Freeport and the forthcoming Crown Estates INTOG leasing round. Preparatory work on the site has already begun with the demolition of existing workshops and space creation.

We are fully committed to developing the offshore wind supply chain and establishing a world class manufacturing facility for rolled steel products at the Port of Nigg. This is an exciting opportunity to ensure supply chain opportunities are delivered locally to the benefit of the local economy and we believe that with the support of government and industry partners we have the right team and skills in place to develop the manufacturing site.

Global Energy Group Chairman, Roy MacGregor

I warmly welcome this announcement by Global Energy Group to strengthen our domestic supply chain capacity, by developing manufacturing facilities at the Port of Nigg. Working alongside our Enterprise Agencies, the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring our domestic supply chain is given all available opportunities to capitalise on the growth of the offshore renewables sector, sustaining existing skilled jobs and delivering new ones.

Offshore wind is rapidly becoming one of the cheapest forms of electricity and Scotland has some of the most extensive renewable generation capabilities in Europe. ScotWind puts Scotland at the forefront of the global development of offshore wind and represents a massive step forward in our transition to net zero. Developers have committed to invest more than £25bn across the 17 Scotwind offshore wind projects.

The Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council’s Collaborative Framework Charter, demonstrates developers’ commitment to collaborate to create supply chain work within Scotland and I look forward to this momentum continuing in the years ahead.

Net Zero & Energy Secretary Michael Matheson

SSE Renewables is continuing to work with Global Energy Group to deliver a world leading tower facility at Port of Nigg, including support funding to make it happen. We look forward to working with GEG to bring forward these revised plans over the coming period and to fulfilling our role as a strategic backer, placing orders to meet our growing offshore pipeline in due course.

Paul Cooley, Director of Offshore Wind – Global, SSE Renewables

Green Freeport Status in the Scottish Highlands Can Attract More Than £2.5BILLION Private Investment

More than £2.5bn of new private sector investment in the UK’s vital green energy sector is at stake as ministers choose the locations for two Scottish Green Freeports this summer, the consortium bidding to win the status for the Scottish Highlands said today (Monday).

The benefits of financial backing at such a scale would be shared across Scotland and the UK, creating 25,000 jobs, as well as accelerating the decarbonisation of the power industry and the just transition to net-zero, according to Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF).

OCF submitted what it described as a “compelling and logical” bid for Green Freeport status for the Inverness and Cromarty Firth area ahead of today’s 10am deadline set for bids by ministers in London and Edinburgh.

A deep, sheltered North Sea inlet on the east coast of the Highlands, the firth is the focal point for the rapid development of the UK’s new offshore wind industry and has served as a hub for the oil and gas sector for more than half a century.

It is widely regarded within the renewables sector as the only location in the country suitable for manufacturing equipment at the speed and scale needed to deliver cheaper electricity and energy security. The bid is backed by 13 of the 17 winners of ScotWind seabed leases for new offshore windfarms.

The drive to set up fixed and floating offshore windfarms is also spurring development of a new green hydrogen industry, with the Highland area at the heart of large-scale developments and export opportunities in that emerging sector.

OCF said in its bid a proposed floating “super wind hub” assembly and production facility – a development that would be enabled by winning Green Freeport status – sets the area apart from the rest of the country.  The offshore wind boom, coupled with Green Freeport status, is forecast to create around 25,000 direct and indirect jobs, with the majority (around 15,000) in the Highlands, during a decade of construction alone. That phase is expected to contribute around £6bn to the economy, with a further £60m-a-year being generated during the operational lifetimes of the windfarms.

We believe the impact of Green Freeport status would be transformational for the viability of projects the renewables industry needs to deliver and would be pivotal in attracting £2.5bn of new private sector investment.

Central to that would be the establishment of the super wind hub facility on the firth, which would stimulate component manufacture in Scottish and UK ports, rather than this activity happening abroad.

The Cromarty Firth is going to be at the very heart of the UK’s energy production map for many decades to come, in the way former coal mining areas were in the past and the north-east of Scotland has been with its key geographical role in the North Sea oil and gas industry.

We have been working closely for more than two years with renewables developers, the supply chain and many other stakeholders to examine in detail what can be achieved locally and nationally through Green Freeport status in the Highlands. We are confident the result of that process is a compelling and logical bid.

Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth

The renewables industry is going to make a bigger, longer-term positive impact on the Highland economy than any other sector has, including our half century involvement with oil and gas.

That industry knows this area can deliver the location, the facilities, the experience and ambition it needs. Green Freeport status, which will attract new investment and help nurture innovation, offers the key to ensuring this massive opportunity can be taken to its optimum level, for the benefit of the Highlands, Scotland and the UK.

Roy MacGregor, Chairman of Global Energy Group / Port of Nigg
Joanne Allday and Alex Johnson, of OCF, along with Highland engineering student Joe Arnaud (centre) at Inverness Airport this morning (20/06/22), bound for London, where they will highlight the strength of the Highland Green Freeport bid to MPs at a parliamentary reception later today.

Highlands’ Main Airport and Inverness Airport Business Park Join Opportunity Cromarty Firth

The Highlands’ largest airport and Inverness Airport Business Park have joined the Opportunity Cromarty Firth consortium.

Inverness airport and business park join a growing list of consortium members that includes the Port of Cromarty Firth, Global Energy Group, Highland Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands and Inverness Chamber of Commerce.

The airport and the adjoining 275-acre business park are vital components of the bid being prepared to submit to the Scottish and UK governments.

The main gateway for travellers to the north of Scotland from the UK and around the world, Inverness is the largest of Highlands and Islands Airports Limited’s (HIAL) 11 airports.  In the year before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the airport’s annual passenger figures were approaching one million and it also serves as a vital air freight hub for the Highlands.

A mixed-use commercial property development, which already has range of tenants including a 130-bedroom hotel on-site and offers space for more businesses, IABP is a joint-venture by Moray Estates, HIAL, Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Like many others, we believe the award of Green Freeport status to the Cromarty Firth and Inverness area would bring a game-changing and long-term boost to the economies of the Highlands and Scotland as a whole.

We are very pleased to have joined OCF and are working closely with fellow consortium members as the bid for this transformational opportunity is finalised.

By stimulating further economic activity and attracting more inward investment that can create thousands of new jobs, a Green Freeport here will help shape the more prosperous and sustainable future that this unique region needs and deserves.

HIAL managing director, Inglis Lyon

Inverness Airport and Inverness Airport Business Park coming on board with the OCF consortium adds vital components to the compelling bid we are preparing to secure Green Freeport status.

The airport is the key UK and international transport hub for Inverness, the Cromarty Firth and the wider area and the IABP offers the modern facilities, infrastructure and space needed by businesses looking to set up operations or expand here.

We very much welcome both as members of OCF and are confident their involvement greatly enhances what is already a highly persuasive bid.”

Port of Cromarty Firth chief executive, Bob Buskie

A Highland Green Freeport Can Revolutionise the Local Economy & Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs Across Scotland & the UK

Falck Renewables, BlueFloat Energy and ØRsted UK Have Expressed Their Support

Falck Renewables, BlueFloat Energy and Ørsted UK have expressed their support for the bid to give Scottish Green Freeport status to the Cromarty Firth.

The three companies, which have successfully secured seabed leases in the recent ScotWind round, have become members of Opportunity Cromarty Firth, the partnership of private, public and academic sector bodies committed to ensuring the Highlands is home to one of Scotland’s two future Green Freeports.

OCF believes a Green Freeport in the Cromarty Firth will maximise local and Scotland-wide benefits from a massive pipeline of renewable energy projects and skilled jobs, placing the Highlands at the heart of the drive towards net-zero.

This view is backed by all three global companies, who agree that awarding Green Freeport status to the Cromarty Firth is aligned with their ambitions of investing billions of pounds in developing floating offshore wind projects off the Scottish coast and boosting investment in the Scottish supply chain.

Falck Renewables, BlueFloat Energy and Ørsted UK believe Scotland can successfully transition its oil and gas expertise into the floating offshore wind sector. That expertise already exists in the north of Scotland in fabrication and manufacturing facilities as well as its technological capabilities, maximising the opportunity to create a pipeline of quality jobs.

When we applied for the right to develop floating offshore wind projects in Scotland we identified opportunities for manufacturing, fabrication and other supply chain companies in Scotland.

The way to achieve this wasn’t hard to work out. Many independent and industry reports into creating a successful offshore wind industry in Scotland point to the Cromarty Firth as providing the unique blend of attributes required.

That is why we are calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to choose the Cromarty Firth as one of the locations for Green Freeport status.

The Cromarty Firth region has always been and continues to be a thriving manufacturing hub. Now with floating offshore wind, and in particular the concentration of projects off the northeast coast, Cromarty Firth offers the space to store and assemble components necessary to deploy these projects at scale. This unique set of attributes is attractive for the supply chain companies who need the confidence to invest to support the industry.

Both the Scottish and the UK Governments have committed to ensuring that Scottish and UK companies and workers benefit from the huge boom in offshore wind in the coming years. Green Freeport status is designed to ensure that manufacturing companies are supported to set up in the region to provide jobs that would otherwise go elsewhere, probably outside of the UK.

We are convinced that the Cromarty Firth and the Highlands can make this vision a reality and build a pipeline of jobs for the benefit of Scotland and the UK.”

A spokesperson for the Ørsted, Falck Renewables, BlueFloat Energy Consortium

OCF is delighted to welcome Falck Renewables, BlueFloat Energy and Ørsted UK as members. We completely agree that Cromarty Firth is the best location in Scotland for a Green Freeport.

Through a Highlands Green Freeport, we have the opportunity and the expertise to lead the world on renewables. The clean energy sector’s importance to the Cromarty Firth, the Highlands, Scotland and beyond cannot be underestimated. These developments would help fulfil Scotland’s net zero carbon ambitions and bring skilled jobs and high-wage opportunities to the Highlands on a level not seen since the oil boom of the 1970s.

Many of OCF’s members, including the Port of Cromarty Firth and Global Energy, already have a substantial track record in renewables and supported more offshore wind projects than any other Scottish location. But such is the size and scope of this operation that we cannot act alone.

To fully capitalise on this breadth of ambition, we need to collaborate, pool our resources, and ensure through Green Freeport status that the infrastructure and technologies are created in Scotland to meet this overwhelming demand to decarbonise.

Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth – speaking on behalf of OCF

Inverness Chamber of Commerce Joins Opportunity Cromarty Firth

Inverness Chamber of Commerce has joined Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF), a dynamic partnership of private, public and academic sector bodies committed to ensuring that the Cromarty Firth becomes a Scottish Green Freeport.

The chamber, the largest independent business organisation based in the Highlands, joins fellow OCF members including Port of Cromarty Firth, Global Energy Group, Highland Resources, Port of Inverness, The University of the Highlands and Islands, The Highland Council, and accountants Johnston Carmichael.

OCF believes a Firth Freeport will maximise local and Scotland-wide benefits from a pipeline of renewable energy projects and place the Highlands at the heart of the drive towards net-zero.

The region hosts a number of leading supply chain companies as well as a locally skilled workforce with essential engineering experience. This is coupled with first-class port infrastructure and manufacturing facilities in the Cromarty Firth, which have benefited from more than £110m of industry-led investments in recent years.

It is anticipated that a Cromarty Firth Green Freeport will stimulate further economic activity and attract inward investment in innovative renewable energy technologies, equipping local people and businesses with skills and technologies to bring transformational regeneration to the Highlands with benefits across the country.

We are delighted to be joining Opportunity Cromarty Firth and give our full backing to the bid to create a Scottish Green Freeport in the heart of the Highlands.

Our businesses have long supported OCF and the enormous benefits that Green Freeport status will bring not only to the Highlands but also Scotland as a whole. In the run-up to the naming of the successful bids, we wanted to translate this support into full membership of the consortium.

Working closely with other Highland Chambers of Commerce, we believe we are uniquely placed to ensure Highland-based SMEs benefit fully from the opportunities that will be realised from a successful bid.

In our opinion there is no other location in the entire nation better positioned to become a Green Freeport.”

Stewart Nicol, Chief Executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce
Photo Credit: Inverness Chamber of Commerce

We are delighted that Inverness Chamber of Commerce has joined the OCF steering group. The business expertise and experience their members bring to the table will provide a huge boost as we work towards finalising our bid for a Green Freeport.

Through our collective assets and resources we will continue working to champion the establishment of a Highlands Green Freeport.

Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of Port of Cromarty Firth – speaking on behalf of Opportunity Cromarty Firth

Port of Cromarty Firth Welcomes cluster vote of confidence from independent offshore wind report