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Investing in Green Energy Ports

Credit: NnG Offshore Wind. Image of the first NnG offshore wind turbine towers delivered to the Port of Dundee.

Forth Ports

4 min read Partner content

Paving the way for whole energy system decarbonisation and the UK’s transition to a green energy future.

Top of a new UK government's in-tray has to be the creation of a resilient low carbon energy system, writes Stuart Wallace, Chief Executive Officer of the Forth Ports Group.

One of the pivotal components of this transformation is the investment in green energy ports.

By proactively developing ports to handle green energy projects, we create a robust national infrastructure that supports the entire renewable energy value chain, accelerating the country’s transition to a decarbonised future in the process.

Central to this vision is a public-private partnership that refocuses the regulatory and policy landscape to streamline the path of private capital into the creation of vital green energy ports.

However, to fully realise this potential, it is essential to address the many challenges that cause delay – through a comprehensive package of supply-side reforms.

From reducing the time to achieve planning consent and the delivery of major transmission upgrades to increasing renewable funding allocations and the development of business models to support hydrogen, there are numerous essential steps we can take to encourage large-scale global investment.

Much of this has been identified in the recent political manifestos, but to deliver this platform we require steadfast leadership from the very top and a desire for real change.

On our part, ports will continue to serve as crucial hubs for the import and export of goods, including energy resources.

Traditionally, ports like Dundee, Leith and Burntisland have handled fossil fuels and their supply chains but, with the shift towards renewable energy and low carbon fuels, there is a significant opportunity to repurpose and upgrade these facilities. 

Undoubtedly, the country’s ports can act as production nodes for low carbon energy projects, from offshore wind farms and hydrogen production to the development of sustainable fuels and carbon capture.

One of the most promising areas for green energy port development is offshore wind.

Offshore wind farms have the potential to generate large amounts of clean electricity and reindustrialise many coastal areas.

Investing in port infrastructure ahead of market demand ensures that the necessary facilities are in place to support the rapid expansion of offshore wind projects, including floating offshore wind as the technology moves into deeper seas.

This includes building specialist quays for manufacturing, facilities for the assembly and deployment of wind turbines, towers, bases and anchors, alongside the storage areas for components and the facilities for maintenance and repair.

Through a network of repurposed green energy ports we can position ourselves as early adopters of green energy technology as the UK looks to attract related industries and create a local supply chain based on heavy engineering and SME growth.

In anticipation of market demand, Forth Ports has invested £45 million of private capital at the Port of Dundee – a port with a long history of North Sea oil and gas work – to create a development platform ready for the first phase of Scotland’s offshore wind farms – notably Neart n Gaoithe, which is already under construction and Inch Cape which is next on the blocks.

And at the Port of Leith, we are creating Scotland’s largest renewables hub by investing an initial £50 million as the offshore wind market continues to develop.

This not only supports the future growth of the UK’s offshore wind industry, but also provides a template for other ports across our group and across Britain.

The creation of high quality, green jobs, ranging from construction to high-tech engineering, can have a lasting positive impact on local communities.

To realise the potential of green energy ports like Leith and Burntisland in Scotland and Tilbury on the Thames, strategic investment and strong policy support are essential. 

Investing in green energy ports is a crucial step towards achieving whole energy system decarbonisation and governments and private investors need to collaborate to provide the necessary financing and create favourable regulatory environments.

By developing infrastructure to support offshore wind – alongside the hydrogen economy and sustainable fuel production – ports can play a central role in the national transition to a sustainable energy future.

However, addressing regulatory drag through targeted supply-side reforms is essential if we are to progress these developments.

With strategic investment in supply chains and robust policy support, green energy ports can become pivotal players in the global effort to combat climate change, stimulating economic growth and creating a greener energy system for future generations.

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