Massive £110m facility for constructing wind towers to be built in Scotland
Image credit: BEIS
The UK’s largest facility for constructing offshore wind towers is expected to be built at the Port of Nigg in Scotland.
The £110m facility is being financially backed by SSE Renewables, Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund and Mainstream Renewable Power alongside government support.
It is anticipated that around 400 direct jobs in manufacturing will be created by the facility and presents a reskilling opportunity for employees who formerly worked at nearby oil and gas plants.
Construction is expected to commence in January 2022, and will take around 18 months to complete, with commercial production starting in 2023.
The giant 450-metre-long, 38,000-metre-squared factory will be capable of rolling steel plate to supply towers in excess of 1,000 tonnes each that can be used for both the fixed and floating offshore wind markets.
Whilst the initial contracts for tower supply will focus on UK domestic supply, it is anticipated that the factory will be in high demand for export of towers and other products as well 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.
The government has committed to 40GW of installed offshore capacity by 2030, bringing overall UK wind capacity to over 50GW.
Due to its island status, the UK is particularly suited to wind power, which is the country's biggest source of renewable energy. Not only does the sector beat other renewable sources by 13.8 per cent of total electricity generation, it also beats the combined generation of coal, oil, and others by 6.5 per cent.
But it still needs more than 3,000 extra towers to reach the 40GW target and does not currently 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 exciting floating offshore wind market in the UK and abroad.
Scotland's 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 significant investment in Scotland’s energy sector is testament to the skills, expertise and innovation within our industry.”
Last month, it was confirmed that a hydrogen storage plant would be built near the UK’s largest onshore windfarm near Glasgow following a £9.4m government grant.
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