The developer of a major new offshore windfarm has joined the Caithness Chamber of Commerce with an ambition to maximise the long-term economic benefits the project will bring to the north of Scotland.
In January the West of Orkney Windfarm secured the rights to an area of seabed from the Crown Estate Scotland in the highly competitive ScotWind process, to bring forward a 2-gigawatt windfarm around 25km north of the Sutherland coast. The project is now being developed by a joint venture comprising Corio Generation, TotalEnergies and Renewable Infrastructure Development Group (RIDG).
Scheduled to be generating electricity by 2030, the project will be capable of powering the equivalent of more than two million homes for decades to come.
The developer has now joined the Caithness Chamber of Commerce as a diamond partner – the chamber’s highest level of membership. This will help the windfarm engage with the local supply chain in Caithness and the north of Scotland and maximise the opportunities for local businesses during both construction and the longer-term operations of the project.
In October last year the project partners announced a £105 million investment initiative that will be enhanced to £140 million by third parties to support the offshore wind supply chain locally, in Scotland and across the UK ahead of a Final Investment Decision in 2026.
Commenting on the new membership, West of Orkney Windfarm Development Manager Jack Farnham said:
“Our membership of the Caithness Chamber of Commerce underlines our commitment to working closely with local businesses and the communities in the north of Scotland to maximise the long-term economic and social benefits this project will bring.
“Our ambition is to deliver up to half of the project’s content in Scotland over its lifetime and we believe the best way to achieve this is through close collaboration with industry and the communities in which we operate, supported by targeted investment where appropriate.
“We have been engaging actively with key local supply chain partners for a number of years and already the project is working closely with contractors across the Highlands and Islands.
“In September last year, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Scrabster Harbour Trust underscoring our commitment to support the enhancement of the port’s infrastructure and position the area to support offshore wind projects in the future.
“We have received a very warm welcome from Trudy and her team, and we look forward to working closely with the chamber to help enhance the capacity and opportunities for businesses in the north of Scotland.”
Trudy Morris, Chief Executive Officer of Caithness Chamber of Commerce said:
“We are delighted to welcome the West of Orkney Windfarm to the Chamber as a Diamond Premier Partner. This is a significant commitment not just to the Chamber but to the local business community. We look forward to working closely with Jack and his team over the coming years to help maximise opportunities for the local supply chain and optimise the socio-economic benefits for the region.
“Offshore wind developments such as the West of Orkney Windfarm will play a key role in helping Scotland and the UK reach their net zero targets as well create a substantial number of jobs, drive investment in skills and infrastructure and deliver sizeable benefits to local communities. It is great to see some of our members such as Scrabster Harbour already working with the West of Orkney Windfarm and one of our jobs over this next period will be to ensure other members have visibility of the opportunities that will be created through this development.”
In April the West of Orkney Windfarm published their Supply Chain Development Statement (SCDS) Outlook document.
The 21-page publication, which was submitted originally to the Crown Estate Scotland as part of the application process outlines the project’s supply chain and skills development plans, underpinned by a £140 million investment programme
Funds will be allocated across a range of initiatives, including:
· Funding design and delivery studies to allow suppliers to plan investment in additional capability and capacity and position themselves competitively against the project’s procurement requirements.
· A skills development programme over the next five years to support long term employment opportunities in the wind sector and to support the project’s ambition to achieve a 50:50 gender balance across all operations from first generation.
The document also details the partners’ commitment to spend £932 million in Scotland during development, construction and the first six years of operations, underpinned by a target of 60 percent UK content (40 percent in Scotland and 20 percent in the rest of the UK), measured over the life of the project.