A dry dock last used in 1994 will reopen after an agreement was signed today to use the site for the construction of the world’s largest floating wind farm.
Kishorn dry dock, in the north-west of the Highlands, was last used during the construction of the Skye Bridge.
It is one of the largest in Western Europe and will now be used to build the floating turbines for Kincardine Offshore’s development off the coast of Aberdeen.
The exclusivity agreement between Kishorn Port Ltd and Kincardine Offshore means 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.
Project director Carlos Barat, 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.
“We are proud that we are able to support local business as we progress towards bringing this important development forward. 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 - which employed 3,000 during its peak - 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 with Kincardine Offshore will see Kishorn used for the fabrication of the semi-spar substructure for the 6MW turbines, which will operate 15km off the coast of Kincardineshire.
When in operation, the development will prevent 94,500 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere every year.
Minister for business, innovation and energy Paul Wheelhouse said: “This agreement paves the way for work to begin at Kishorn for the first time in 25 years, constructing the Kincardine floating Offshore Windfarm, which will produce enough electricity to power almost 56,000 homes.
“As outlined in our new draft energy strategy, both fixed and floating offshore wind technologies are set to take an increasingly important role in the generation of renewable electricity. With 25 per cent 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.”
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has invested £158,932 in the £450,000 costs of upgrading the dry dock in readiness for new contracts. HIE’s area manager for Skye, Lochaber and Wester Ross, Robert Muir, 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.”