Nigg viewed from the air. Photo by Inverair Drone Services

HIE has approved investment of up to £8.3m in Scottish government funding for an £18.9m project to develop the East Quay at Nigg in Easter Ross. The project is intended to help the Highlands and Islands economy benefit more from the growth in renewable energy development, as well as meeting the needs of existing clients.

Once completed, the new facility is forecast to bring more than £11m of additional business to the area in its first three years and create up to 39 new jobs.

Port of Nigg, which is owned by Global Energy Group (GEG), is home to the largest graving dock facility in Europe, with more than 900 metres of deep-water quayside.

The facility has serviced the oil and gas industry over many decades and has more recently become an established hub in the growing renewables sector.

Its first major renewables project was the logistics and marshalling for the wind turbine scope for the Beatrice offshore wind development, during which time demand for quayside space began to exceed infrastructure capacity.

This demand and the opportunities associated with wider growth in renewables are the main drivers behind the East Quay development.

GEG is planning to build new infrastructure of 225 metres of additional deep-water quayside and adjacent laydown area at the eastern edge of the park.

As well as helping meet the needs of existing clients, it will provide capacity for renewables activities including both the foundation stage and the marshalling, assembly and load-out for large wind turbine generator projects.

Work is expected to begin in April and will take around 14-16 months to complete.

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Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Offshore renewables represent a huge opportunity not only for the region, but for all of Scotland and we are committed to making the most of this to support growth within the Scottish supply chain, bring new projects to Scotland and build a green recovery from Covid-19.

“This announcement marks a significant step as we continue to push forward with our ambitious and world-leading net zero targets and a target of seeing 11GW of offshore wind developed in Scotland’s waters by 2030, alongside the launch of Crown Estate Scotland’s first ScotWind leasing round. At the end of last year, we also unveiled more than 100 new policies and proposals to support our green recovery, which will also help deliver a just transition to net zero.

“Nigg is recognised globally for the abundance of knowledge, skills and expertise it has to offer, including in offshore wind and marine energy projects, and is also recognised for the role it now plays in the energy transition. Now is an opportune time to re-imagine the Scotland around us and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy focused on wellbeing.”

Alistair Dodds, chair of HIE, said: “The Highlands and Islands is already a leading region in the advent of renewable energy and indeed punching above its weight in the transition to a net-zero economy.

“At EMEC in Orkney they’re combining flow battery technology with tidal energy to produce green hydrogen and the world’s first large-scale tidal array is performing well in the Pentland Firth.

“The region has many natural advantages for this transition, and our ports and harbours will be vital assets in unlocking that potential.

“Port of Nigg is very much at the heart of that. It has been a key player in the energy sector and its potential to contribute to and secure benefits from the growth in renewables is clear.

“This is a very welcome initiative by Global Energy Group and one that will benefit the region for many years to come. We are very pleased to be able to support the project and look forward to continuing to work with the company as it implements its plans.”

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