The Scottish economy is set for a £500million windfall from a landmark renewables project.
The Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL) in the Outer Moray Firth is one of the largest private investments ever made in Scottish infrastructure.
Over the weekend the first of 86 jacket substructures for the joint venture project arrived on site, marking another step forward for the £2.6billion renewable energy project.
Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, last night welcomed the progress.
He said: “I am delighted to see the progress that is being made with the Beatrice offshore wind project.
“The project is set to inject £530 million into the Scottish economy, and its benefits will be felt for a long time – for our communities, economy and environment.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that offshore wind is integral to the Scotland’s sustainable energy future – as well as helping us to achieve our ambitious climate change targets.
“I want to congratulate everyone involved in the Beatrice project in reaching this significant milestone, and getting us one step closer to fully realising those benefits and ambitions.
“We look forward to further projects being developed in Scotland’s waters and will work hard to maximise not only the environmental benefit, but also to support jobs within the Scottish supply-chain.”
Construction off the Caithness and Moray coastline began in April 2017 and has seen a number of vessels in the area carrying out work.
Until now, the biggest vessel used was Seaway Heavy Lifting’s Stanislav Yudin, responsible for the installation of the foundation piles.
But, the installation of the first jacket heralds the arrival of the largest vessel of the Seaway Heavy Lifting fleet; the Oleg Strashnov.
The Strashnov will complete the installation of the first phase of jackets, each of which weigh in the region of 1,000 tonnes, over the coming months.
Jacket installation activities are forecast to continue until December 2017 and resume in May 2018, weather permitting.
Steve Wilson, BOWL’s project manager, said “Seeing the first jacket arrive from the fabricators in Newcastle and being installed offshore is yet another testament to the hard work and determination of everyone involved in the BOWL project.
“As well as being large complex structures, these jackets will be the deepest water fixed foundations of any offshore wind farm and it has taken significant time and resource to get them ready for installation in the Moray Firth, so it’s a great achievement to have the first one in place.”
The jackets, which are up to 80m tall, have been fabricated at facilities in Fife, Newcastle, Belgium and Denmark.
Eighty-four jackets will support the Beatrice wind turbines, the first of which is due to be installed in summer 2018. The remaining two jackets will each support a Siemens Offshore Transformer Module.
The Beatrice project, which will be operated from a base in Wick and capable of providing enough electricity to power up to 450,000 homes, will be fully operational by the end of 2019.
The project has been given the green light for construction by owners SSE (40%), Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) (35%) and Red Rock Power Limited (25%) after reaching Financial Close on 23 May 2016.