A skills and innovation hub set for the Highlands is being backed by floating offshore wind developers Renantis, BlueFloat Energy and Orsted.
The three renewables firms have become the first developers to join the board of the PowerHouse, which was established last year by Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF).
OCF recently had its green freeport bid approved, meaning it will soon benefit from light touch regulations and tax incentives.
The region was awarded the status alongside Forth Ports, at the expense of a joint bid by Aberdeen and Peterhead, which is thought to have come a distant fourth.
It’s hoped the move will create as many 75,000 jobs in Scotland, and breathe new life into the Highlands.
PowerHouse includes an applied research centre dedicated to developing floating offshore wind and green hydrogen technologies.
The Easter Ross facility is planning to establish a new national training centre in the Highlands, with the offshore renewables job market expected to boom.
Speaking on behalf of OCF, Port of Cromarty Firth chief executive, Bob Buskie, said: “This facility will ensure that local people and those attracted to the area by the opportunities on the horizon here have the skills they and the industry need.
“Along with the PowerHouse’s commitment to research and development, we have the chance here to play a key role in helping Scotland and the UK to take a global leadership position in the offshore floating wind and green hydrogen sectors.
“We warmly welcome Renantis, BlueFloat Energy and Ørsted’s backing as the PowerHouse plans and projects move forward at pace.”
The three wind developers join 40 organisations from across the supply chain that are already backing PowerHouse, in addition to a number of academic partners and other private training providers.
Last year Orsted acquired a majority stake in the 100 megawatt (MW) Salamander floating offshore wind development project on the Scottish coast.
The deal saw the wind firm become a joint venture partner with Simply Blue Group and Subsea 7.
Global Energy Group has also been making moves in the offshore wind space in the area, with the firm recently sharing a video of the last few foundations for the Seagreen wind farm being loaded onto barges at the Nigg site.
Once operational, the project will become the world’s deepest fixed-bottom offshore wind farm, and will provide enough clean power for around two thirds of all Scottish homes.
Richard Dibley, speaking on behalf of the Renantis, BlueFloat Energy and Orsted consortium, said: “We believe Scotland can successfully transition its oil and gas expertise into the floating offshore wind sector.
“However, it is vital that as the offshore wind sector rapidly develops in Scotland and the UK, the industry has the skilled workforce it will need.
“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.
“Plans to establish a national training and skills centre in the Highlands, which will be at the heart of those developments, are a very positive further step to ensuring that Scotland becomes a global leader in floating offshore wind expertise.”