Argyll and the Islands based businesses are looking to take advantage of the opportunities on offer in the offshore wind industry at a fully booked event at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) on Friday (May 28).
In January, 32GW of additional offshore wind energy generation was sanctioned for the UK through The Crown Estate's third leasing round, signalling potential for billions to be invested in the sector over the next decade. Through the Scottish Territorial Waters round, there is the potential for market investment in Argyll of £7.9 billion, offering significant employment opportunities.
The supply chain event at SAMS, Dunstaffnage is organised by a partnership which includes Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Argyll and Bute Council, Scottish Renewables, SSE Renewables and ScottishPower Renewables.
The event will be chaired by Jim Mather MSP and speakers will include representatives from ScottishPower Renewables, The Crown Estate and Skykon. The purpose of the event is to promote and understand the supply chain opportunities presented by this fast-growing industry from the perspectives of developers and suppliers, followed by the chance for attendees to meet the project developers, ScottishPower Renewables and SSE Renewables on a one-to-one basis.
Jim Mather explained: “Offshore wind represents a massive opportunity for Scotland to tackle climate change, to create jobs and to bring billions of pounds of investment into the Scottish economy, particularly into rural areas. We must capture the economic benefits presented by our almost infinite supply of clean, green energy. This will be extremely useful collaborative event to focus minds on how we can realise Scotland's potential as a world leader in renewable energy technology, research and expertise.”
Councillor Robert MacIntyre, Argyll and Bute's spokesperson for Economy, Environment and Rural Affairs, said: “Argyll and Bute offers a huge renewable resource of wave, tidal, wind, hydro and biomass, and the council is committed to supporting the diverse range of renewable technologies, both new and emerging.
“I am delighted that this high profile event is being held in Argyll and Bute. I am sure it will lead to valuable links being forged between the various organisations involved in the exciting offshore wind industry sector – including developers and suppliers – which in turn will lay the foundations for significant future opportunities for local businesses.”
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, the industry trade body for renewable energy in Scotland explained: “To build this new industry we must first target investment in supporting infrastructures; creating the necessary skill sets and establishing strong working relationships across the sector. All sorts of goods and services will be required by this new industry, from accommodation and catering, to boat and subsea access and construction, but it's important that local businesses start planning now.”
Niall continued: “It's no exaggeration to say that the growth of renewables is the biggest economic opportunity in Scotland, and has the potential to revolutionise the economy in many parts of the Highlands and Islands.”
Many of the fabrication and yard operators in the Highlands and Islands are already experienced renewables manufacturers including Skykon Campbeltown Ltd in Argyll; BiFab at Arnish on Lewis and Isleburn in Easter Ross, and they join a multitude of other skilled businesses ready to bid for work.
Douglas Cowan, Area Manager for HIE's Argyll and the Islands Office is delighted with the interest that the event has generated: “There has been a great deal of enthusiasm amongst our local businesses to come and find out about the range of opportunities available. We have a strong marine services sector to show case to the project developers, in areas like boat building, commercial diving, installation, construction and maintenance.”
Andrew Jamieson, Regulation and Markets Director at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Scotland and the UK has tremendous potential to lead the world in offshore renewables. Our parent company Iberdrola Renovables has already taken the decision to base its global headquarters for offshore wind power in Scotland – and we are looking to develop a number of major projects across the UK. To fully realise this potential we need industry and government to work together to put the correct supply chain infrastructure in place – and events like this are important to help move the whole sector forward.”
Martin Huss, Group Supply Chain Executive at SSE Renewables, said: “SSE has a large portfolio of offshore wind in the pipeline with Round 2.5/3 and Scottish Territorial sites that have been awarded recently. We are eager to ensure suppliers and businesses are aware of the potential requirements and the scale of these requirements within the offshore industry as it will be important to build knowledge and gain experience at this early stage. We look forward to working with Argyll & Bute Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government to help Argyll and Bute play its part in realising the economic opportunities available from offshore wind and marine technologies.”
The event is already fully booked but a podcast of the event will be available from the HI Energy and HIE websites at a later date.
HIE's role is to develop sustainable economic growth across the region. To achieve this it creates infrastructure for future investment, assists large and small businesses with growth aspirations and has a unique role strengthening communities, particularly in fragile areas.
HIE supports the growth ambitions of business and social enterprise clients by creating close working relationships in order to accelerate growth in turnover, profitability, wage levels, exports and therefore Gross Value Added (GVA) in the HIE area.
HIE also invests in transformational projects across the region to make the Highlands and Islands a more competitive and attractive place to live, work, study and grow.
The region covered by HIE takes in more than half of Scotland, and is home to around 440,000 people. See www.hie.co.uk for more information.