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by Bob Buskie
09 November 2021
Associate Feature: A green energy future beyond COP26

Associate Feature: A green energy future beyond COP26

When it comes to the environment, all roads currently lead to COP26. The UN climate conference in Glasgow has gained an all-consuming significance with regards to finally tackling the global warming crisis.

In order to cut emissions and meet net-zero commitments everyone must come together and collaborate in agreeing the right actions to deliver the promises made in the 2015 Paris Agreement. If no sweeping changes are announced, then it will be seen as another missed opportunity.  

However, the step change required to dramatically lessen the impact of global warming is already happening in Scotland. The country is undergoing its next rapid energy transformation, the catalyst of which is renewable energy, onshore and offshore. And the building blocks to a net zero future are already being put in place.

The Port of Cromarty Firth is leading by example. Our board invested over £50m in reclaiming 22 acres of laydown area to use for the pre-installation, construction and maintenance of offshore wind and floating offshore wind projects.
These significant investments have been aligned to our vision to establish the Cromarty Firth as a strategic national renewable energy hub – an opportunity for which the Port is uniquely positioned. This has been a great start in support of achieving Scotland’s net-zero objectives, but further investment is needed to help accelerate our plans in green technologies which will help protect lives and livelihoods against worsening climate impacts.

The Cromarty Firth offers first-class infrastructure, significant land availability and world-leading supply chain expertise. Added to this is our proven track record, having supported more offshore wind projects than any other Scottish location. 

We are perfectly located for the majority of Scotland’s future offshore renewable development sites, predicted to be worth £26 billion to the economy over the next 50 years, and the creator of thousands of highly-skilled jobs. These sites are included in the ScotWind and INTOG leasing rounds – seen by the Scottish Government as pivotal in meeting the country’s net-zero targets and growing the domestic offshore renewables sector. 

As the shift to clean energy accelerates, the Port has stepped up its work. We are looking to tap into a new wave of green prosperity – the creation of a green hydrogen economy. Hydrogen produced from renewable energy is a carbon-free fuel that can be a substitute for fossil fuels. 
Green hydrogen production from offshore wind can help overcome Scotland’s grid constraints and unlock a massive sustainable power generation resource, creating a clean fuel for industry and domestic households and feeding a rapidly growing UK and European market.

To explore this vast opportunity, we established the North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme. The programme comprises several projects, the principal one being the construction of a large-scale onshore electrolysis facility. As part of this ‘Distilleries Project’, we are working with partners ScottishPower, Storegga, plus drinks firms Glenmorangie, Whyte and Mackay and Diageo, to create a green hydrogen hub in the Cromarty Firth and provide local distilleries with hydrogen to assist in decarbonising their heating. 

The Port has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Norwegian firm Gen2 Energy AS to create a commercial pathway to import green hydrogen into the UK energy market. This would guarantee green hydrogen to those who want access it by mid-2023, giving them the confidence to make concrete plans to begin switching their infrastructure.

While the vision of COP26 will focus minds, the building blocks will continue to be put in place by organisations such as the Port, whose aim of working collaboratively with public, private and academic sector organisations will realise Scotland’s clean energy potential, provide high-quality employment opportunities, and meet Scotland’s net zero goals.

This article is sponsored by the Port of Cromarty Firth.

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