The Cromarty Firth and Highlands are ready to play a key role in delivering the UK’s new Energy Security Strategy, the consortium bidding to win Green Freeport Status for the area has said.
Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) welcomed the strategy, aimed at boosting the country’s energy independence and tackling rising prices, which was announced this week by the Prime Minister.
OCF highlighted the critical part the area will play in the development of large-scale offshore wind projects and other low-carbon technologies, including green hydrogen, as well as its proven 50-year track record as a location with the capacity and capabilities to support the energy industry.
The OCF consortium was launched two years ago with the aim of creating a free trade zone centred on the firth, to help secure a sustainable long-term pipeline of energy projects and jobs in the Highlands.
It is backed by the Port of Cromarty Firth (PoCF), Port of Nigg owner, Global Energy Group, and more than a dozen regional businesses, as well as public sector organisations, and academic bodies, including The Highland Council and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).
Speaking on behalf of the consortium, PoCF chief executive, Bob Buskie, said: “We welcome this very important and timely new strategy and its over-arching goal of enabling the UK to produce 95% of its energy from low-carbon sources by 2030.
“The Cromarty Firth and surrounding area in the Highlands are ready to play a major part in the efforts to achieve the vital aims of the strategy. We have a proven track record and facilities ready to rapidly accelerate deployment in offshore renewable energy to help secure future energy security.
“As a consortium that includes businesses, public sector members and academic bodies, we have the capability to speed up deployment of offshore wind, decarbonisation of oil and gas exploration and production and the export of green hydrogen.”
Global Energy Group chairman, Roy MacGregor, added: “The Cromarty Firth has been a key location for the UK energy industry for many years and is going to be at the heart of a pipeline of new offshore renewable energy projects for decades to come.
“In this area, as well as deep sheltered waters and superb, modern facilities, we have the skills, experience, capacity and ability to innovate that is needed to rise quicky and effectively to the challenges and opportunities this new strategy brings.
“The firth is the only location that can deliver serial floating wind fabrication, assembly and turbine installation at the scale required to meet Offshore Wind and North Sea Transition Deals.”
The Cromarty Firth, on the east coast of the Highlands, was last year identified as the “most suitable location for a Scottish floating wind cluster,” in the Strategic Investment Assessment published by the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC).
In addition to offshore energy production, members of the OCF consortium, such as Port of Inverness, play important roles in supporting development of other forms of renewables, including pumped storage hydro power and onshore wind.
OCF is currently preparing what it believes will be a “compelling bid” for the area to be one of two in Scotland to be awarded Green Freeport status in a selection process launched by the UK and Scottish governments last month.