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Offshore wind tower manufacturing facility to be built in Scotland

Posted on 06 Dec 2021 and read 625 times
Offshore wind tower manufacturing facility to be built in ScotlandScotland-based Global Energy Group (GEG), an energy services company, has announced that it has agreed terms with leading offshore wind tower manufacturing specialist, Haizea Wind Group, to build a £110 million-plus ‘state of the art’ offshore wind tubular rolling facility at Port of Nigg, located in the Scottish Highlands.

Nigg Offshore Wind (NOW) will be a giant, 450m long, 38,000m2 factory, capable of rolling steel plate to supply towers, which will weigh in excess of 1,000 tonnes each, as well as other large tubular components, to the booming UK offshore fixed and floating wind industry in the UK and export markets.

Subject to successfully achieving financial close, the NOW factory will receive substantial financial backing totalling £15 million in debt from SSE Renewables making the renewable energy leader the largest single UK-based strategic backer behind the NOW plans, along with senior debt being provided (subject to due diligence and approvals) by Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund.

Global wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power is a key lender in the funding syndicate, proving £5 million in debt, as well as a strategic partner in the long-term development of the facility.

The factory is expected to receive funding support from the Scottish government via Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the UK Government via the offshore wind manufacturing investment support scheme (subject to the completion of ongoing due diligence).

While the initial contracts for tower supply will focus on UK domestic supply, it is anticipated that the factory will also be in high demand for the export of towers and other products due to the rapid rate of planned offshore wind deployment across Europe up until 2050.

The factory design will integrate cutting edge robotics and welding inspection technology originally developed for the offshore oil and gas industry. Regional staff historically employed in the oil and gas industry will have the opportunity to be re-trained and upskilled at the Nigg Skills Academy to allow them to operate the machinery required to roll these giant structures.

The UK Government has committed to 40GW of installed offshore capacity by 2030, bringing overall UK wind capacity to over 50GW. At the current size of turbine used in the market, that means the UK needs more than 3,000 towers to reach this ambitious target. However, the UK currently does not have a factory capable of producing towers to the specification required for future planned projects by leading fixed and floating developers.

The Port of Nigg rolling facility will be capable of producing up to 135 towers per year as well as other important structures for the offshore wind industry such as transition pieces, suction buckets and bespoke tubular structures for the floating offshore wind industry.

Strategic offshore wind hub

The cost of the new facility, inclusive of rolling machinery robotics and a new blast and paint shop is £110-120 million. The new factory is an enabler to firmly establish the Port of Nigg as a strategic offshore wind hub which includes the consolidation of the Port’s existing marshalling and staging work for turbine components and foundations (the marshalling and staging work already employs over 120-plus people).

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “We need bold, collective action to tackle the global climate emergency, and the growth of our renewables sector over the next ten years will be truly transformative, helping to deliver a just transition to ‘net zero’ and a greener, fairer future for us all.

“This investment in Scotland’s energy sector is testament to the skills, expertise and innovation within our industry. We are delighted to financially support this cutting edge offshore wind towers facility, through Highlands & Islands Enterprise, as it reaches this significant milestone, that will deliver high-value, green jobs and bring multiple benefits to communities across the Highlands and beyond, while playing a pivotal role in delivering offshore renewables growth in Scotland and further afield.”

Tim Cornelius, CEO of GEG, said: “The continued focus on a just transition to a carbon neutral economy has received fresh impetus as a result of the impact of Covid-19 and the Scottish and UK Governments are looking for opportunities presented by the now inevitable energy transition from a dependency on hydrocarbons to clean and sustainable sources of energy, to create jobs and generate sustainable economic growth.

“The announcement of a ‘state of the art’ tower rolling factory at the Port of Nigg can and will be a leading example of the ‘green recovery’ in action. It will create more than 400 direct long term, high-value jobs, and will offer our existing clients and new customers from around the world with the opportunity to buy ‘Scottish’ – meaning offshore wind developers can achieve their local content targets while helping the UK economy recover in a green and sustainable way.

“The facility will also create more than 1,000 indirect jobs in the Scottish and UK supply chain. We are delighted to be partnering with Haizea which will bring its tower manufacturing expertise and knowledge to the Highlands of Scotland.”

He continued: “We have to acknowledge the immense financial, technical and commercial support we have received from SSE Renewables which has worked tirelessly with us for the past two years to make this dream a reality. Without the support of SSE, this factory would not be built.

“We also have to thank Mainstream Renewable Power for their drive and commitment to securing this key strategic asset for Scotland. They have played a pivotal role in making this happen.”

He concluded: “Both companies are taking leadership positions that the rest of the sector should seek to emulate. They are putting their money where their mouths are and we will now look to repay the faith they have in us by creating an indigenous supply chain that will be the envy of Europe.”