Having played a crucial role in Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport’s winning bid, Global Energy Group is now positioning the Port of Nigg as a leading part of the national energy transition

As the largest port facility in the Moray Firth, the Port of Nigg has a rich history and heritage in the UK’s offshore energy industry. The site, which has been owned and operated by Global Energy Group (GEG) since 2011, was a key facility in the building out of the oil and gas industry, including the fabrication of rigs for BP’s 40s Field and across the North Sea.

Iain Sinclair, Executive Director at GEG explains how they have strategically positioned the Port to capitalise on the pipeline of supply chain opportunities focused on low-carbon technologies, to the benefit of the Highlands and the Scottish and UK economy as a whole.  
“Over the last decade, we have invested over £120 million on site improvements and quayside expansions, resulting in GEG and the Port of Nigg being at the forefront of the UK’s net zero and energy security targets. Today, the focus is on enhancing our value proposition and taking a leading role in the UK’s transition to renewable energy and, low carbon technologies, including the development of floating offshore wind and green hydrogen,” Sinclair says.

The Port of Nigg is one of the key port facilities that has secured green freeport status as part of the Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport, led by a consortium of private, public, and academic sector partners, including GEG.
Sinclair, who sits on the Board of Scottish Renewables and Renewables UK, as well as the Scottish Supply Chain Steering Group, points out that the Port of Nigg benefits from large acreage of useable land with high ground loading and deepwater quays.
These aspects are important both when it comes to laydown areas required for large offshore wind structures, and the assembly and marshalling of projects prior to their installation offshore. Space is also key in the provision of manufacturing and fabrication facilities for renewable energy developers and equipment manufacturers locating to the freeport. 

“The renewables sector is very space hungry, particularly when it comes to floating wind structures. Wind turbine generators are getting bigger and bigger, as are the foundations and floating platforms. 
“The vessels needed to transport these structures to the offshore sites are going to be considerably larger than today’s generation of vessels. We have deep water quays that meet the requirements of these next-generation vessels. We have 12 metres below Chart Datum at the quayside, including plans to extend the west quay at Nigg, that will provide depths of 22 metres.
“With this world-class facility, we are well placed to do turbine integration work for both steel and concrete foundations. We can offer hard-standing laydown areas adjacent to the quayside at Nigg that provide ground loading of 50 tonnes per square metre. 

“These factors are very significant for the renewables sector, as it looks to build out floating wind generation,” Sinclair notes.
Sinclair highlights that there are very few sites in the UK or elsewhere in Europe that can offer comparable facilities. 
“We’re working hard to ensure that the vital enabling role that ports and harbours have in the deployment of future offshore wind developments is understood across industry and government,” he comments.

Sinclair makes the point that there is no room for complacency. “UK ports have a vital enabling role to play in the deployment of future offshore and floating offshore wind projects. We’re proud, at GEG, to have positioned ourselves to take a leading role in this area and work with like-minded facilities to secure this opportunity for Scotland and the UK, and to ensure that it does not vanish offshore into Europe.” 

The Port of Nigg has already worked on five offshore wind projects. These, taken together, amount to 2.6 GW of offshore wind assets that the facility has managed. Sinclair points out that Nigg has also started to handle the 882MW Moray West offshore wind project for Ocean Winds. 
Sinclair comments: “We have completed the fabrication and load out of the J-Tube cages for the project, which are critical structures for the offshore wind sector. The J-Tube cages are integrated with the turbine transition pieces and protect the cables coming from the wind turbines into the offshore substations, as well as the cables exporting the power to shore.
“In addition to this fabrication award, GEG and Port of Nigg has also secured the marshalling contract of all 62 transition pieces and will host the project’s wind turbine generators as part of a marshalling and pre-assembly contract with Siemens Gamesa. This demonstrates we have the geographic advantage and the supply chain services to support clients on these offshore renewable projects.” 

The recently awarded green freeport status, Sinclair says, conveys a range of desirable benefits to participating companies who base themselves in the freeport area. “They benefit from stamp duty, land tax relief, and business rates relief, as well as from exemption from NI payments for eligible employees within the freeport. We are confident that this help to attract inward investment and manufacturing to the Port. Then there is the fact that the Cromarty Firth and the Port of Nigg sits in the geographic heartland of offshore wind in the UK. That factor played a significant role in the success of the Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport bid.”
Sinclair points out that GEG have developed a five-point strategic growth plan for the Port of Nigg, which will transform the facility. This transformation is built upon Land Development, Manufacturing, Fabrication, Assembly, and Operations & Maintenance. 
This provides both a robust business case for the Freeport and a portfolio of investment opportunities.