Associate feature: Creating a new clean energy revolution in Scotland
The next decade will see a revolution in clean energy production and consumption as the rise of renewables continues at a dramatic pace. Nowhere in Scotland is better placed to take advantage of this step-change than the Cromarty Firth.
With its deep, sheltered waters and extensive supply chain, the Firth has for decades provided the perfect base for companies to launch their operations into the North Sea and beyond – from oil and gas to cruise, and now fixed and floating offshore wind projects.
It is also home to the Port of Cromarty Firth, Business of the Year at the Maritime UK Awards, a key barometer of success in the UK’s £46.1 billion industry. Not only were we the sole Scottish award winner, but also walked away with the Coastal Powerhouse award too.
These justify the direction we had taken over the last seven years, working hard to position us as the prime facility in Scotland to facilitate the move towards clean energy.
In that period, the Port invested more than £50 million in infrastructure, specifically targeted at growing opportunities in renewables. This includes land capacity, deep-water berths and sheltered anchorages.
Add in the fact that Cromarty Firth has a world-leading supply chain, expertise and proven track record to service future developments.
Such focus on the future has been noted by Crown Estate Scotland. Its latest ports study named the Cromarty Firth as a leading location to support offshore energy development, and capitalise on upcoming offshore wind opportunities.
The Cromarty Firth is perfectly located for 14 of the 15 sites identified for future offshore wind and floating offshore wind projects in Scotland – projects predicted to be worth £26 billion to the economy over the next 50 years.
These sites are included in the ScotWind leasing round – seen by the Scottish Government as pivotal for the advancement of the country’s offshore renewables sector – which awards leases for future offshore wind developments.
But the work to transform our nation into a net zero carbon country by 2045 is massive. It requires growth in renewables infrastructure deployment from 1GW installed to 11GW installed by 2030 alone. The project pipeline is vast. A radically different approach is needed.
That is why the Firth is positioning itself as a strategic national renewable energy hub so it can turn huge ambition into reality.
Such is the size and scope of this renewables operation that we cannot act alone. For our industry to capitalise on the breadth of ambition in renewables, we need to collaborate, pool our resources, and ensure through partnerships that the infrastructure is created in Scotland to meet this overwhelming demand.
One such collaboration is the initiative Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF), made up of industry partners, academic institutions and other employers exploring the opportunity to create a new Scottish Government ‘green port’ on the Firth.
Among the projects OCF is backing is the North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme, with ambitions to develop a hub to produce, store and distribute green hydrogen to the UK and Europe.
This programme featured in the Scottish Government’s Hydrogen Statement, and outlined Scotland’s ambition of producing 5GW low carbon hydrogen by 2030 and 25GW by 2045. But more collaboration is needed in the private and public sector, and at both Scottish and UK level.
We have a golden chance to create a transformative energy market that not only provides skilled employment and economic prosperity for generations but also does it in a way that helps, not harms, our planet.
Let’s make the most of this once in a generation opportunity.
This article was sponsored by Port of Cromarty Firth.