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Investment in our ports is critical to achieving our net-zero commitments

Orkney Future Ports

3 min read Partner content

The renewables sector will play a key role in helping the UK to achieve its net-zero targets. Paul Olvhoj, Business Development Manager at Orkney Islands Council calls for investment in the UK’s port infrastructure to help support the offshore wind sector.

The UK’s ambition to be a global leader in achieving net-zero is hanging in the balance. Investment in offshore wind and the upgrading of the UK’s ports is a vital element of the just transition, and it needs to be done at scale and pace.

Orkney Future Ports (OFP) can and will play a significant role in turning these ambitions into reality if the necessary investment in port infrastructure can be secured. OFP’s state-of-the-art projects will deliver support to the offshore wind sector and a £16.5bn boost to the UK economy through committed supply chain spending.

A recent report from the Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) Taskforce highlighted that investment of up to £4bn in integration, manufacturing and assembly ports are required to reach the UK’s FLOW ambition. The report projects that every £1 invested in the UK’s port infrastructure will generate up to £4.30 of added value to the nation’s economy, meaning the benefits of investment far outweigh the costs.

Investment in OFP’s projects will unlock a range of skilled jobs and opportunities not only within the local community, but across the whole of the UK’s supply chain.

Orkney’s rich heritage in innovation, abundance of resources and worldwide reputation in energy production mean that the region is perfectly positioned to become a major assembly centre for both fixed and floating offshore wind structures, supporting the offshore wind industry in both the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean through the just transition and beyond.

Included in OFP’s ambitious vision is the transformation of Scapa Flow into Scapa Deep Water Quay. Investment in this flagship project will re-imagine what is already a considerable asset to the region, providing Orkney with one of the UK’s best offshore wind facilities which will facilitate the development of almost 900 turbines, equating to 15.9 GW of power. This is over 50% of the total energy output expected from ScotWind.

Without investment in OFP’s facilities and similar sites around Scotland’s coast, ScotWind projects may face significant delays.

Investment in OFP’s projects will unlock a range of skilled jobs and opportunities not only within the local community, but across the whole of the UK’s supply chain.

The knock-on effect of failing to deliver ScotWind would prove disastrous for the UK. It would impact the bid to reach net-zero by 2050 and see the UK lose its position as a global leader in the renewables sector. With limited infrastructure available in the UK, future opportunities in renewables would instead go overseas, resulting in a lack of supply chain growth. OFP’s developments will help to ensure the nation’s energy security and world-leading status for decades to come.

When considering OFP’s vision for the future of the region, it is clear we have delivered an innovative, ambitious plan for the future of the ports which represents the next logical step on the region’s journey to net-zero.

Our previous experience in the energy sector and enviable location makes Orkney a prime candidate for investment in marine infrastructure.

Such investment will guarantee not only Orkney’s future economic prosperity but also the UK’s energy security for the coming decades. The West of Orkney Windfarm alone has the potential to supply 2 million homes with electricity when operational – and the development of Scapa Deep Water Quay is absolutely essential for this. Orkney Future Ports will help drive the country toward net-zero.

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