Developers behind plans to build the “world’s largest” floating wind farm off Scotland’s north coast have struck a deal to work with a nearby port.
Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm (PFOWF) will be located around four miles from Caithness and is planned over two stages.
The first consists of a single turbine demonstrator that will showcase new technology, with deployment expected in 2024.
The second stage is the larger array project – up to ten turbines – which will be collectively capable of generating up to 100 megawatts (MW) of green energy.
Construction of the array is expected to commence in 2024 and it will be operational in 2026 – upon completion it will be the “largest of its kind in the world”.
As part of a wider commitment to boost Scottish supply chain, PFOWF has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Scrabster Harbour.
Under the deal, the pair will work together on the development of operations and maintenance (O&M) requirements, services, and facilities.
They will also investigate the potential for construction support services and major component change-out for floating wind turbines.
It builds on work secured by Scrabster throughout the project’s early stages, including vessel mobilisation and demobilisation for geophysical and geotechnical surveys and use of the port’s facilities during commissioning and deployment of wind measurement equipment over 2020.
Copenhagen Offshore Partners (COP) is managing the PFOWF on behalf of Edinburgh-headquartered Highland Wind.
Highland Wind is majority owned by fund management company Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), through one of its CI funds.
Project director at COP UK Richard Copeland said: “This MOU demonstrates the benefits that the Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm could bring to the Caithness area. Providing Operations and Maintenance for offshore wind brings long-term, high value jobs and wider economic and social benefits.
“Scrabster is ideally positioned to support the Pentland project throughout its lifetime and the recent investments, such as the St Ola Pier, which was officially opened last week, and deep-water basin, only enhance that position.”
A local supply chain and socio economic study is also being undertaken by the PFOWF, in partnership with the University of Highlands and Islands and Xodus.
It will assess the benefits that development at Scrabster will bring to the local area.
The project announcement follows the recent confirmation that CIP – through one of its funds – has entered the ScotWind process as part of a consortium with SSE Renewables and Marubeni Corporation.
The three companies will combine their local experience with the end goal of delivering 10 gigawatts (GW) of new offshore wind projects.
Scrabster also has an interest in ScotWind after an MOU was agreed earlier this year with the 2GW West of Orkney Windfarm.
A consortium, comprising oil giant TotalEnergies, Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG) and Scottish developer RIDG, is behind the proposed development.
Crown Estate Scotland is currently considering 74 offshore wind bids – the successful applicants are expected to be revealed next month.
Sandy Mackie, Scrabster Harbour trust manager, said: “The Pentland project is already bringing work to Scrabster and we are pleased to build on that working relationship towards Scrabster becoming the O&M facility for the Project.
“As well as bringing direct opportunities to the port and wider area, Pentland will also provide the ideal opportunity to further demonstrate our capabilities and readiness for supporting offshore wind, such as the larger scale projects to be deployed through ScotWind.”
The history of the PFOWF
As recently as the beginning of this year it was thought that plans to build a floating wind farm in the Pentland Firth had fallen by the wayside.
Proposals were initially put forward by Swedish developer Hexicon but they fell part in 2017 when a company set up to lead the project folded.
Despite a pledge by Hexicon to push ahead with the scheme, then known as Dounreay Tri, plans stalled.
But in June it emerged that the project had been given a new lease of life and a few months later Highland Wind formally unveiled the PFOWF.