Up to 200 jobs will be created as a dry dock comes out of a 23-year hibernation during the construction of what is said to be the world’s largest floating wind farm.
Kishorn dry dock in the Highlands will be used to help build floating turbines for Kincardine Offshore’s development off the coast of Aberdeen.
Work will start at the site in August, with the first turbine of the 50MW array expected to be in the water in the second quarter of 2018.
The eight-turbine facility will produce enough electricity to power almost 56,000 homes.
Kishorn Port Ltd and Kincardine Offshore have signed an exclusivity agreement which will see the port come back to life for the first time since 1994.
Project director Carlos Barat, of Kincardine Offshore, said: “This is a significant development for the people of Kishorn and will directly lead to the creation of up to 200 much-needed jobs in the area.
“Today’s agreement to use Kishorn dry dock will herald a new era for offshore renewables and, of course, for this area as the terrific potential this facility offers the country is realised.”
Kishorn port was historically an oil and gas fabrication yard, used for the casting of the 600,000-tonne Ninian Central platform in the late 1970s.
The last time the port’s two 13,000-tonne dock gates were moved was in 1994 when the two concrete foundation caissons for the Skye Bridge were floated out.
The agreement will see Kishorn Port used for the fabrication of the semi-spar substructure for the turbines, rated just over 6MW, which will operate nine miles off the coastline.
Simon Russell, a director of Kishorn Port Ltd, said: “In signing this deal, Kincardine has demonstrated the significant strategic and technical strength of Kishorn’s dry dock.”
Business, innovation and energy minister Paul Wheelhouse, who attended the ceremony on Friday, said: ” With 25% of Europe’s offshore wind potential, and through development with due regard to our natural environment, Scotland is strongly positioned to maximise the economic and environmental benefits that both technologies can deliver.
“The Scottish Government is determined to ensure projects deliver supply chain jobs in communities across Scotland and we have been encouraging developers to do all they can to maximise their economic impact, so today’s agreement is very welcome.”
Once completed, power from Kincardine Offshore will be brought ashore to an Aberdeen operations centre and will connect to the grid at Redmoss sub-station.
Project chiefs said that when in operation, the development will prevent 94,500 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere every year.
Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “This announcement shows clearly the way in which renewable energy developments are supporting sustainable, clean growth across Scotland.”
Kishorn Port Ltd is a joint venture between Ferguson Transport (Spean Bridge) Ltd and Leiths (Scotland) Ltd.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has invested £158,932 in the £450,000 costs of upgrading the dry dock in readiness for new contracts, with the rest coming from the two partners.
Robert Muir, HIE’s area manager for Skye, Lochaber and Wester Ross, said: “It is great to see Kishorn coming to life again.
“The dock has huge potential, not just for renewables, but for oil and gas and aquaculture too.”