A project pipeline of more than 50 years in offshore wind could be secured thanks to the ScotWind seabed auction, according to a northern port.
The Port of Cromarty Firth said the awards mark a “game-changing opportunity” for the Highlands and wider Scotland.
With the majority of sites “ideally located for the firth”, the Port hailed the development of wind farms as being “expected to play a key role in securing a 50-70-year pipeline of projects in the area”.
It said the estimated total project value of around £26billion makes ScotWind likely to be the biggest set of infrastructure projects in the country over the next decade.
Chief executive Bob Buskie said: “The Port of Cromarty Firth is primed and ready to take advantage of the opportunity with the winning developers, alongside our partners in Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF), collaborating to provide a sustainable economic impact in the Highlands for years to come.
“Wind farm projects offer many opportunities for people and businesses.
“Their construction, operation and maintenance and repowering or decommissioning will bring billions of pounds of investment and new jobs to Scotland.”
Mr Buskie also highlighted the potential of the wind auction to unlock development of green hydrogen in Scotland through the burgeoning floating wind market, providing a unique opportunity for Scotland to build up the supply chain in these burgeoning areas.
The Port of Cromarty Firth was identified as a leading location for the formation of a strategic port cluster in Scotland by the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC) last year, naming it the most suitable location” in Scotland for platform fabrication and manufacture.
Further south, Aberdeen Harbour also gave its congratulations to the winners and said its £350million expansion and the region’s skills “will be invaluable for these ambitious offshore developments”.
Chief executive Bob Sanguinetti said: “Congratulations to the companies which have been awarded licences to build the next generation of Scotland’s offshore windfarms. It is exciting to see the mix of companies which will be instrumental in the drive to create green energy for millions in the future.
“As we move to the next stage, the need for project-ready, scalable infrastructure and experienced supply chains will be even greater. Our £350 million port expansion – the largest in the UK – and the expertise built up over more than 50 years in Aberdeen, will be invaluable for these ambitious offshore developments.”
‘Oil and Gas Capital of Europe to the Net Zero Energy Capital’
Philanthropist and former oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood, who is behind the new Energy Transition Zone proposed for the south of Aberdeen, described the awards as a “crucial step” in helping the city move from the oil and gas capital to the “Net Zero Energy Capital of Europe”.
“18GW of power announced today, representing over 70% of all successful bids, are within 100 nautical miles of Aberdeen and therefore this region is ideally placed to become a globally recognised hub supporting the high value manufacturing, operations and maintenance and innovation required to deliver these developments at pace.
“This is precisely why we are taking forward the development of the Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) adjacent to the brand new £350 million Aberdeen South Harbour, one of the largest marine projects in the UK. ETZ has the ambition to meet a crucial requirement of potential investors needing proximity to the quayside given the importance of transporting components, materials and supplies from onshore to offshore and vice versa.”
Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a very big day for the UK energy sector, and for the Aberdeen region in particular.
“Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to be at the heart of supporting offshore wind development and operations and several major operators have indicated that it will site global centres of excellence here.
“The activity that will follow the award of these licences is part of a projected £170+ billion investment in capital and operating activities in the UK offshore energy sector between 2021-2030.
“Much of this will be in this region or powered by the companies and people based here. Europe’s oil & gas capital is not the problem, but very much part of the solution and is set to become a net exporter of net zero.”