Associate feature: Port of Cromarty Firth vital to offshore wind revolution
Looking out from the Cromarty Firth across the North Sea, the waters and winds that have fashioned this picturesque landscape are now at the heart of an energy revolution.
Offshore wind is a growing force in Scotland’s energy mix – indeed, when it comes to renewables, the Highland region is already the nation’s powerhouse, generating 26% of its output. Situated in the Firth’s sheltered deep waters and in prime position to support Scotland’s offshore wind development is the Port of Cromarty Firth.
While oil and gas has been the lifeblood of business and employment in the Cromarty Firth for decades, our energy markets have been fundamentally changing, moving rapidly from fossil fuels towards low carbon sources. Of vital importance to the Port has been diversification. A proactive and investment-driven strategy has been applied to broaden our business horizons and ensure a wider portfolio can utilise the Firth’s waters and first-class modern facilities.
Key to this has been positioning and infrastructure. The Cromarty Firth has become a ‘National Strategic Asset’, ensuring it is recognised as a leading port location for offshore wind. Investments of over £55m have been made into expanding the Port’s quayside and laydown areas, allowing us to bid for – and win – major contracts in offshore wind.
Chief among them has been the £2.6bn Beatrice Offshore Windfarm. We were awarded two contracts by Seaway Heavy Lifting for laydown space, berthing and office space to support the 588MW 84-turbine development. We also secured a multi-million pound contract from the Moray East Offshore Windfarm to become the intermediate port for its 950MW 95-turbine development. Our latest infrastructure expansion will soon host the turbine components for this project, which will be constructed onsite before being shipped offshore for installation.
This portfolio of work has brought further jobs and opportunities, boosting the local supply chain, as well as providing the Port with a track record of success when it comes to supporting some of the largest offshore wind projects. The Port’s future offshore wind opportunities are strong. In June, Crown Estate Scotland, launched ScotWind – a new round of offshore wind leasing for the next generation of developments. Of the 17 sites identified for development, 15 are on our doorstep. ScotWind is also expected to include the first ever commercial-scale floating offshore wind projects, which the Cromarty Firth is uniquely aligned to support.
In addition to the Port’s prime positioning, the recently published Crown Estate Scotland report ‘Ports for Offshore Wind - A review of the net-zero opportunity for ports in Scotland’ highlighted the Cromarty Firth as one of the top locations most suited to support future long-term projects. We are already investigating further infrastructure developments to capitalise on our position as one of the leading offshore wind facilities in Scotland.
We are helping local workforce transition from oil and gas to renewables, ensuring they are aware of the opportunities, working with University of Highlands and Islands and Skills Development Scotland and creating a roadmap of opportunities in clean energy for employers.
I firmly believe the Port can secure a pipeline of work for our stakeholders and businesses around the Highlands for the next 50 years. We can achieve this by continuing to sustainably grow the Port, as well as balancing the economic prosperity of the Cromarty Firth and the Highlands by improving and safeguarding our wonderful area. I hope the winds of change that have transformed the way we consume our energy will continue to blow in our favour, for the benefit of everyone in the Highlands.
Bob Buskie is CEO at Cromarty Firth
This piece was sponsored by Cromarty Firth