Offshore construction of the Beatrice wind farm has started, with developer SSE reporting the successful installation of the first foundation piles.
The work was carried out in the past few days by the Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL) crane vessel Stanislav Yudin at the site of the 84-turbine development in the Outer Moray Firth.
SSE said it was also making good progress on construction of onshore infrastructure for the wind farm and the new undersea electricity cable connecting Caithness and Moray.
Noel Cummins, the company’s major projects liaison manger said: “Renovation of the iconic Thomas Telford buildings in Wick, which will become our long-term operations and maintenance base, is well underway and offshore construction began this weekend, culminating in the successful installation of the first cluster of foundation piles.
“In Moray, we’re also making good progress at our substation in Blackhillock and at our works along the export cable route from near Portgordon to the Blackhillock substation.”
Activity is also ramping up at the Cromarty Firth’s two major port facilities, which are both supporting the development of the £2.6billion wind farm.
The Stanislav Yudin spent three days berthed at Invergordon before sailing to the Beatrice site, eight miles off the Caithness coast. The Easter Ross harbour’s operators Port of Cromarty Firth (PCF) last week announced they had secured contracts to provide berth and lay down space and office accommodation for SHL.
Yesterday PCF chief executive Bob Buskie said: “We were delighted to welcome the Stanislav Yudin to Invergordon. Its visit marks the start of a multi-year project to build the Beatrice offshore wind farm, which will generate business for companies around the firth.
“It is further evidence that the port has the perfect location, a competitive and experienced supply chain and the infrastructure necessary to handle these large projects.”
Mr Buskie said the port’s newest development, berth five, which received grant funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will be used as lay down space for the project.
He added: “This has already started to generate work for companies based at the Invergordon service base and we hope this will increase as the project becomes more established.”
Preparatory work is also underway at nearby Nigg Energy Park, owned by Inverness-based Global Energy Group (GEG).
Under a multi-million pound contract agreement between Siemens and Global, announced last year, Nigg will be used as the main location for major construction and marshalling works for Beatrice. The work is expected to create up to 100 direct and indirect jobs, along with related supply chain opportunities.
Last night Global’s director of communications Alastair Kennedy said: “There is a considerable amount of work being completed on the infrastructure within the Port of Nigg.
“We are preparing the site for the start-up of the Beatrice contract with Siemens next year by creating and preparing the storage areas which will be utilised for the wind farm components which will be stored, erected and marshalled from our facility.
“Further works at present importantly include the fabricating of a 2,000 ton capacity fuel storage tank which will allow us to provide fuel to the vessels which call at Nigg.”