Moray is the natural location to establish an engineering business to support the renewable energy sector. Offshore wind farms are being established off the Moray Firth and the strengths of engineering in Moray combined with the opportunities presented by locations such as Buckie Harbour for servicing the developments provide a compelling case for investment.
In the Highlands and Islands over 200 businesses already involved in renewable energy; these companies employ over 600 employees and generate GVA of £15m
Scotland's offshore wind generating capacity is set for expansion with 7,000 turbines installed in UK waters over the next decade and £30 billion pound investment in Scotland alone.
The Moray Firth is the site of a large amount of activity for round three of the new offshore wind farms. EDP Renováveis (EDP) and SeaEnergy Renewables Limited (SERL) have formed the partnership Moray Offshore Renewables Limited (MORL). It was awarded a Zone Development Agreement by The Crown Estate to develop zone 1 of the nine UK Round 3 offshore zones. Zone 1 is located in the outer Moray Firth, within the UK Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).
MORL propose to develop up to 1.14GW of offshore wind within the eastern development area of the zone. The wind farm development area covers approximately 296 km2 and is located approximately 22 km to the nearest coastline which is east of the Highlands coastline in Scotland. It is anticipated to consist of approximately 200 turbines and have a potential generation capacity of 1-1.14GW.
The wind farm is likely to require engineering support. MORL anticipate that the wind farm will involve 6 monthly maintenance checks for each turbine as well as one-off repairs. With re-powering the turbines have an expected life of 50 years.
The Moray Firth is home to the Beatrice wind demonstrator, the world's first deep water offshore wind turbine deployment with two demonstrator turbines. Servicing activity is undertaken from Buckie Harbour with some local maintenance work.
In February 2009, the partnership of SSE Renewables and Sea Energy Renewables was awarded exclusivity by The Crown Estate to develop the Beatrice offshore wind farm. The development will cover an approximate area of 131.5km2; consist of 184 turbines and a total capacity of 920 MW. The project is currently in the planning stage with construction starting in 2014 and fully operational by 2017.
There is a range of other renewable opportunities in Moray including biomass; anaerobic digestion from waste from the food industry; and in the longer term engineering work for wave / tidal power generation and carbon capture.
Moray is adjacent to the Peterhead carbon capture demonstrator project where in February 2011 SSE announced that it had teamed up with Shell, and Petrofac subsidiary CO2 DeepStore to develop a full chain, post-combustion facility.
The biomass opportunity has already begun. In May 2011 construction began on a £60m biomass plant that will use whisky by-products to produce energy. The combined heat and power plant by Helius CoRDe at Rothes, in Moray, could generate enough electricity to power 9,000 homes.
Moray is an established base for manufacturing, engineering and construction. Figures excluding the RAF bases show that 8,197 people employed in Moray are involved in manufacturing, construction or utility provision. This represents 24% of the workforce compared to only 15% of the national workforce involved in these industries.
The area has also provided large numbers of employees in the offshore oil and gas industry as well as the large scale engineering yard at Nigg which has undertaken a large amount of offshore engineering work.
In addition to the skills available in the local workforce, the ending of RAF operations at Kinloss will provide a large number of skilled staff for the engineering industry. Electrical and mechanical engineering skills will be essential for the offshore wind industry and the onshore support activities.
Work on logistics and the requirement for helicopter air support will also provide a requirement for air electronic engineering, aircraft engineering, electronic and general engineers as well as other skills.
Buckie Harbour offers an ideal base for the support and maintenance of the offshore wind industry. The port has good all weather access, engineering facilities on site and further significant development land less than 1 mile from the harbour.
Buckie has a track record in shipbuilding, ship repair and conversion. There are many transferable skills and materials to work on blades, nacelle cover and nose cone manufacture.
Buckie Shipyard has expertise in marine fabrication in both steel and aluminium and manufacture of wind farm service vessels. It has a dedicated fabrication shop for these aluminium vessels and capacity for an 850-tonne vessel in and out of the main slipway.
Work is ongoing to provide greater access and workshop facilities at Buckie Harbour in order to secure support work for the offshore wind industry.
By choosing to locate a key part of their business in The Enterprise Park Forres, monitoring and instrumentation specialists EFC Group have been able to expand their business, recruit skilled staff and build bespoke new facilities with plenty of room to grow. Add in reduced commuting time, better staff retention and an unrivalled quality of life, it’s clear the move has made perfect business sense. In a little over a year the company’s Forres operation has grown from a single person in a serviced office to a current complement of around 18, with ambitious plans for an additional 30 staff in the years ahead.
Situated between Aberdeen and Inverness, Enterprise Park Forres boasts the perfect location, especially for companies operating in the oil and gas and Energy sector. EPF stretches over 100 acres of land and is home to a mix of diverse businesses across a range of sectors. The park provides a thriving environment with a unique range of high quality units, land development opportunities and an on-site business and innovation centre, Horizon Scotland.