Turbine investment

Scotland to get UK’s largest offshore wind tower factory

Turbine boost: how the plant will look

Global Energy Group and Haizea Wind Group have unveiled plans to build what will be the UK’s largest offshore wind tower manufacturing plant at Port of Nigg near Inverness.

The tech-enabled facility, inclusive of rolling machinery robotics and a new blast and paint shop, will cost £110-120m and create 400 jobs.

Nigg Offshore Wind (NOW) will be housed in a giant, 450-metre-long, 38,000sq metre factory.

The new facility is the most significant localisation of offshore wind supply chain manufacturing ever seen in Scotland and the UK.

The announcement marks the culmination of more than two years of close planning between SSE’s development business SSE Renewables, Global Energy Group and Haizea Wind Group.

It will be capable of rolling steel plate to supply towers in excess of 1,000 tonnes each and other products, to the booming UK offshore fixed and floating wind industry in the UK and abroad.

SSE is providing debt investment of £15 million, making it the largest single UK backer of the project.

SSE Renewables will be placing manufacturing orders with the factory from its leading pipeline of large-scale UK offshore wind projects. SSE Renewables expects to announce a first order contract with NOW in the near future.

Once operational, the NOW plant will support the creation of up to 400 full-time direct manufacturing jobs as well as more than 1,800 indirect jobs in the UK, with an estimated 1,100 of these in Scotland. 

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.” 

As well as being a strategic backer behind the NOW factory, SSE Renewables is in a leading position to provide sustainable long-term supply chain opportunities.

It is currently building more offshore wind than any other company in the world right now, including at the 3.6GW Dogger Bank project (a JV with Equinor and Eni).

Its pipeline of next-generation large scale UK projects includes its wholly-owned super-project Berwick Bank at up to 4.1GW as well as hoped-for success in the upcoming ScotWind seabed leasing round.

Other partners in the Nigg project nclude senior debt provider Sequoia Infrastructure Debt Fund, as well as Mainstream Renewable Power.

Additionally, the project has received funding support from the Scottish Government via Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the UK Government via the offshore wind manufacturing investment support scheme (OWMIS).

Construction is due to begin in January, subject to reaching financial close by year-end. Site preparation, construction and commissioning is expected to take around 18 months, supporting 1,248 FTE job years across the supply chain in building works and equipment supply.

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It expects first production of towers in 2023 and its backers say it will put offshore wind to the forefront of the Scottish and UK green economic recovery.

The new NOW factory will firmly establish the Port of Nigg as a strategic offshore wind hub in the UK and will consolidate the port’s existing marshalling and staging work for turbine components and foundations.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, CEO of SSE said: “Today’s announcement shows that SSE is willing to put its money where its mouth is to support development of the Scottish manufacturing capability for the offshore wind sector.

“Our investment in the planned manufacturing facility demonstrates our continuing commitment to do what we can to support the development of a competitive Scottish supply chain and create local jobs.

Alistair Phillips-Davies: ‘putting money where our mouth is

“In addition to the debt funding, SSE also looks forward to fulfilling its role as a strategic backer and placing orders with the factory to meet our growing offshore wind pipeline in the near future.

“SSE is in a unique position with projects of scale, such as Dogger Bank and Berwick Bank, to create sustainable, long-term supply chain opportunities such as at Nigg and the new GE blade factory in Teesside.”

Tim Cornelius, CEO of Global Energy Group said: “The announcement today 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 offer our existing clients and new customers from around the world the opportunity to buy ‘Scottish’ – meaning offshore wind developers can achieve their local content targets whilst helping the UK economy recover in a green and sustainable way.”

He added that the company will now look to repay the faith SSE has put in GEG “by creating an indigenous supply chain that will be the envy of Europe.”

The factory will be capable of producing up to 135 towers per year for the next generation of fixed and floating turbine towers 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.

While initial contracts will be used to help meet the UK’s 40GW of offshore wind target by 2030, it is anticipated the factory will 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 innovative 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.

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