Work has started to transform a port that fed the 1970s fossil fuel boom into a poster child for the circular green economy, with plans including a floating wind platform production hub with pioneer BW Ideol that aims to propel the technology to full-scale industrialisation.
Ardersier, near Inverness in northeast Scotland, will over the next five years shrug off its past as a production base for oil rigs to become “Europe’s first fully circular energy transition facility”, claimed the owners of the site that covers more than 160 hectares with over a kilometre of quayside.
The project to rejuvenate what is said to be the UK’s largest brownfield port kicked off on Thursday with a £20m ($26.6m) dredging project to clear 2.5 million cubic metres of sand and reopen access.
Key to the plans will be production of the concrete-based floating foundations pioneered by BW Ideol, which signed an exclusivity agreement with the port in September.
Lack of facilities to speed up and industrialise production of floating platforms is seen as a major barrier to the sector’s ambitious growth plans.
BW Ideol CEO, Paul de la Gueriviere said: “The lack of large infrastructure is a bottle neck to deliver the number of floating foundations required for the UK market’s ambitious development plans, both in terms of local content and the production rate expected. Ardersier Port is a unique facility to unlock these constraints.
“In comparison to steel foundations, floating wind offers a unique opportunity to combine both price competitiveness and local manufacturing, thanks to BW Ideol’s unique concrete floater solution.”
Scotland is poised to emerge as a global pacesetter for the floating wind sector thanks to the ScotWind tender currently underway that’s expected to award major seabed acreage to floaters early next year.
Other green initiatives planned for Ardersier include a £300m green steel plant powered by offshore wind, a concrete production facility using dredged sand, a waste from energy plant and oil rig decommissioning.
Gavin MacKay, head of energy industries at local body Highlands and Islands Enterprise said:
"We are encouraged to see Ardersier Port being actively developed to support the offshore energy industries. This was the original purpose of the site and one to which it is still well suited.
"Offshore wind, in particular, is poised for significant growth, and the facility offers real potential for the local production and assembly of the large components that will be required by that industry."