The UK’s Global Energy Group (GEG) has locked up some £8.3m ($10m) in investment from the Scottish government for a major extension to its Nigg yard for future offshore wind construction work in the North Sea.

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Development of the East Quay project, expected to cost just under £19m, will involve building 225 metres of deep-water quayside and adjacent laydown area at the eastern edge of the existing facility, located in the Scottish Highlands.

The expansion comes after Recharge reported exclusively late last year that GEG was closing in on a final decision on a £100m development of Nigg into what would be the UK’s largest offshore wind fabrication facility, centred on a giant 35,000m 3 steel-rolling hall that would manufacture up-to-100 towers, jackets and floating platforms a year.

“Nigg is recognised globally for the abundance of knowledge, skills and expertise it has to offer, including in offshore wind and marine energy projects, and is also recognised for the role it now plays in the energy transition. Now is an opportune time to re-imagine the Scotland around us and to begin building a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy focused on wellbeing,” said Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse.

“Offshore renewables represent a huge opportunity not only for the region, but for all of Scotland and we are committed to making the most of this to support growth within the Scottish supply chain, bring new projects to Scotland and build a green recovery from Covid-19.”

Once in operation, the expanded facility on the Cromarty Firth, already Europe’s largest graving dock with over 9,000 metres of deepwater quayside, is forecast to bring an additional £11.24m in new business to the area in its first three years.

“The Highlands and Islands is already a leading region in the advent of renewable energy and indeed punching above its weight in the transition to a net zero economy,” said Alistair Dodds, chair of Highland and Island Enterprise, which underwrote the investment in the Nigg yard.

“Port of Nigg is very much at the heart of that. It has been a key player in the energy sector and its potential to contribute to and secure benefits from the growth in renewables is clear.”

Rory Gunn, facilities director at the Port of Nigg said: “With a 50-year pipeline of opportunity ahead of us with the [recently launched] ScotWind leasing round, the Cromarty Firth facilities are ideally located to support those projects.

“This new quayside will greatly enhance the capabilities of our port, and help to attract further customers, inward investment and job creation.”

Scotland has raised its sights on the country’s 2030 offshore wind power build-out, setting an 11GW goal as part its wider national green recovery and decarbonisation strategies spurred by ScotWind.

Wheelhouse said: “This [investment] announcement marks a significant step as we continue to push forward with our ambitious and world-leading net zero targets and a target of seeing 11GW of offshore wind developed in Scotland’s waters by 2030, alongside the launch of Crown Estate Scotland’s first ScotWind leasing round.

Work on the extension, foreseen being used for the marshalling, assembly and load out of foundations and towers for large-scale projects, is expected to begin in April and take “around 14-16 months” to complete.

Yesterday, Recharge revealed GEG has formed a joint venture with Italian oil & gas construction giant Rosetti Marino with an eye on the fast-approaching market for offshore substations as North Sea wind fleet expands, along with oil & gas platform electrification projects.