Developers of the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm hailed a “significant milestone” on Tuesday with the opening of an operations and maintenance base for the project in Berwickshire.
Project developers EDF Renewables and Ireland’s ESB said the O&M base at Eyemouth Harbour will bring up to 50 jobs for the 25-year lifespan of the wind farm.
Located around 9 miles off the coast of Fife, the first turbines at the 450MW scheme will be operational in mid-2023, with completion of the entire wind farm scheduled for 2024.
The NnG O&M base includes a 1,040 square metre, three-storey operations building alongside a 538 square metre storage warehouse.
The former houses a control room from which NnG staff and turbine supplier Siemens Gamesa will operate and monitor the site, and oversee the team of technicians needed to maintain the turbines throughout its life.
Alongside company representatives and local suppliers, the official opening was conducted by Net Zero & Energy Secretary Michael Matheson, who said the base was “a prime example” of how new offshore installations can create green jobs and bring wider benefits to local communities.
Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Matheson said projects like NnG presented a “huge opportunity for us in managing our transition.”
Emphasising the wider role for the Scottish supply chain, he added: “The key to this is not just to make sure we utiltise our fantastic natural resources… It’s also about maximising the opportunities to make sure we create the jobs that go alongside that – in operations and maintenance but also in the manufacturing of all the key components.”
In addition to overseeing controls and monitoring vessels for the site, the new building also houses staff welfare facilities, workspaces, locker rooms and briefing areas for technicians based there.
Alongside the base itself, a new berthing pontoon has been designed, constructed and installed in the harbour by Moray-based Inland and Coastal Marina Systems.
Seven technicians from the area have already been recruited and will begin work in February, while further retraining and apprenticeship opportunities will be made available to the residents of Eyemouth and the surrounding area in the coming year.
NnG project director Matthias Haag hailed the moment as a “pivotal point” in the life of the project and thanked those who had contributed to the base’s opening.
“I’m immensely proud of the facility that we’ve built here, which is one of the most advanced O&M bases of any wind farm in the world,” he said.
“It will ensure not only that the NnG wind farm runs efficiently but that we put the safety and welfare of our people front and centre as they look after the operations of the NNG wind farm.”
NnG had previously been expected to hit full production in 2023, but the timeline was pushed back due to a series of Covid-related delays and supply chain issues.
Work is currently underway installing jackets and other infrastructure for the wind farm’s 54 turbines ahead of full commissioning in 2024.
Meanwhile, fabricator Harland & Wolff recently terminated an agreement with contractor Saipem for the delivery of four jackets for the project, claiming cost escalation and delays had made the work “sub-economic.”