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4 minute read

£110m wind turbine tower factory to be built in Scotland

Energy services company, Global Energy Group (GEG), has agreed terms with offshore wind tower manufacturing specialist, Haizea Wind Group, to build a £110m-plus state-of-the-art offshore wind tubular rolling facility at Port of Nigg, in the Scottish Highlands.

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

Subject to successfully achieving financial close, the NOW factory will receive financial backing totalling £15m in debt from SSE Renewables, along with senior debt being provided by Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund. Mainstream Renewable Power is a key lender in the funding syndicate, proving £5m 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.

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 due to the rapid rate of planned offshore wind deployment across Europe up until 2050.

Over £110m is to be invested in Scotland to create the UK’s largest offshore wind tower manufacturing facility / Picture: Global Energy Group

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 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. 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 people.

Tim Cornelius, CEO of GEG, 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 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 whilst helping the UK economy recover in a green and sustainable way.  The facility will also create more than 1000 indirect jobs in the Scottish and UK supply chain. We are delighted to be partnering with Haizea who will bring their tower manufacturing expertise and knowledge to the Highlands of Scotland.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: “This significant 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.”

Borja Zarraga, CEO of Haizea, concluded: “Haizea is delighted to be partnering with GEG to develop a state-of-the-art tower rolling facility at the Port of Nigg in Scotland. We are recognised as world leaders in tower rolling technology and the UK is an important market for us to operate in. We know how important local content is for our clients and customers, and I am very confident that when the GEG reputation for manufacturing excellence and the physical location of the Port of Nigg is combined with our experience, client base, track record and know-how, we will together deliver best-in-class, cost competitive towers to the fixed and floating offshore wind market for many years to come.”

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