Five locations in the Highlands and Islands have been identified for their potential to be significant manufacturing sites serving Scotland's burgeoning offshore wind energy industry.
Nigg, (Easter Ross); Arnish (Lewis); Machrihanish (Campbeltown); Ardersier (Inverness) and Kishorn (Wester Ross) have been picked out as priority sites with six other locations in a report entitled Scotland's National Renewables Infrastructure Plan – published this week in response to the Scottish Government's Renewables Action Plan.
The report also indicates that a number of locations in the region are prompting strong interest from tidal and wave developers, in addition to the strong lead established in Caithness and Orkney as a result of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters marine renewable leasing round.
The report has drawn on multi agency and industry input, and was prepared by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and by Scottish Enterprise. If these locations can make a strong investment case over the next five years, these and other viable locations will be key to growing a globally competitive renewable energy sector in Scotland.
Calum Davidson, HIE's head of key sectors, said: “This report underlines the opportunities for the Highlands and Islands to significantly contribute to Scotland's intention to be at the forefront of this emerging industry. Committed government investment, the enthusiasm of developers and a supportive public sector in the Highlands and Islands has contributed enormously to the strong position we're in today.”
Renewables manufacturing is already underway at Arnish, Nigg and Machrihanish while Ardersier and Kishorn both have a history of involvement in energy industry manufacturing.
Mr Davidson explained: “This report has been compiled at a strategic level, based on data regarding the infrastructural, and locational merits of specific sites, along with the availability of a skilled workforce. However, this is just the first stage, clearly development at any of these or other sites will depend on specific demand, the availability of funding, environmental issues and will of course require regulatory planning procedures to be undergone.”
The report sets out the requirements and potential scale of the offshore wind, wave and tidal sectors; the infrastructure required; the consultations that have shaped the report; the criteria used to identify the priority sites and what the next stages will be.
Colin Grant of HIE's energy team said: “We're delighted that so many locations in our region have been identified as priority sites and are confident that a high number of other sites in our region will play a key role in this industry. We will be working with developers and funders, businesses and communities to ensure that we can offer world class facilities here in Scotland ahead of international competitors.”
Ian Couper of the North of Scotland Industries Group (NSIG) said: “This report will be of great interest to our members. This is exactly the kind of co-operation between Government, development agencies and industry operators that is accelerating our chances of real gains from renewables. We look forward to progressing the same positive relationship with all those stakeholders – local authorities, funders and public agencies who can support this momentum through the next stage of this plan.”
Click on link for copy of the full report