SSE backs UK’s largest offshore wind tower factory to be built in Scotland with £15m debt investment

Nigg Offshore Wind will be a giant 450-meter-long factory capable of rolling steel plate to supply turbine towers in excess of 1000 tonnes each. Picture: Global Energy Group

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SSE IS providing substantial financial backing for a new state-of-the-art offshore turbine tower tubular rolling manufacturing plant in the Scottish Highlands with debt investment of £15 million, helping green light an investment of over £110 million in a new UK-based offshore wind manufacturing plant in the Cromarty Firth.

SSE’s multi-million-pound debt investment makes it the largest single UK backer behind plans by Scottish-headquartered energy services company Global Energy Group (GEG) and leading offshore wind tower manufacturing specialist, Haizea Wind Group (Haizea), to build what will be the UK’s largest offshore wind tower manufacturing facility at Port of Nigg near Inverness. The cost of the new facility, inclusive of rolling machinery robotics and a new blast and paint shop is £110-120m.

Nigg Offshore Wind (NOW) will be a giant, 450-meter-long, 38,000m2 factory, 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. As a strategic backer behind the plant, 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 new 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 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. 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.” 

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 over two years of close planning between SSE’s development business SSE Renewables, Global Energy Group and Haizea Wind Group to make the new facility a reality.

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 iscurrently 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 joining SSE Renewables, Global Energy Group and Haizea Wind Group in the funding syndicate include senior debt provider Sequoia Infrastructure Debt Fund (SIDF), 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).

The project is due to enter construction in January 2022, 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.

The world-class, Scottish-based turbine component factory, which expects first production of towers in 2023, 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. We have worked with Global Energy Group and stakeholders for over two years to get to this point. Global Energy Group has exciting plans for a world-class tower factory at Port of Nigg and 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.

“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.”

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