Associated British Ports  has y announced a deal to investigate an area for the development of infrastructure to support offshore wind manufacturing, assembly and marshalling and green energy on the Cromarty Firth in Scotland, within the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport .

The area, which lies within the proposed Nigg and Pitcalzean area of the Green Freeport, could support both fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind (FLOW) projects and play a major role in the development of current and future ScotWind leasing rounds.

The Cromarty Firth offers an attractive combination of physical and geographic advantages with a strong current group of ports and energy business and benefits from a Green Freeport location. ABP’s vision is add to this compelling existing ecosystem to help maximise the delivery of investment, jobs and opportunity for the Cromarty Firth and the wider region.

Over the coming months, ABP will work closely with key local stakeholders and the community as they consider the potential of the location.

Henrik Pedersen, CEO of ABP, said: “Offshore wind offers huge potential to generate green energy and – if the right conditions are in place – significant jobs and prosperity benefits to Scotland and the UK. We’re excited to explore the potential of Nigg, applying our experience across the UK, including at our Ports of Grimsby, Hull, Lowestoft and Barrow which already host significant offshore wind activity and at Port Talbot, where we are developing a Floating Offshore Wind port project. We look forward to working with key local partners, the community, and public sector stakeholders.

“This new project emphasises ABP’s commitment to supporting green growth projects and is closely linked to our recently launched sustainability strategy – Ready for Tomorrow – which sets out plans for reaching net zero from our own operations by 2040”.

Calum MacPherson, Chief Executive Officer of the Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport said “The Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport welcomes today’s announcement by Associated British Ports. Offshore wind presents great new potential for growing investment and good jobs for the Inverness and Cromarty Firth areas. It’s good to see an additional experienced port operator coming on board who wants to work with the existing Green Freeport members and local communities to help maximise the potential of the area.”

In selecting the potential development site, ABP has been respectful of other sites important for the success of the Cromarty Firth and Inverness Green Port and looks forward to working with local stakeholders to achieve that common goal.

The Floating Offshore Wind Taskforce’s recently published “Industry Roadmap 2040”, estimated that planned floating offshore wind projects in Scottish waters alone will require three to five integration ports.

ABP is already developing plans for a c.£500 million investment in its port at Port Talbot in South Wales to act as a major FLOW construction facility. The company will be applying the experience from that development as it assesses options for Nigg.

Andy Reay, Head of Offshore Wind for ABP, commented: “This is an exciting development that plays a vital role in supporting delivery of the UK’s net zero commitments and the requirements for offshore wind projects in Scottish waters.

“Ports play a vital role in supporting the UK’s green energy transition. Today’s announcement will further cement ABP’s reputation as a leader in supporting the offshore wind industry with, for example, the world’s largest offshore wind Operations & Maintenance (O&M) port at its Port of Grimsby and hosting the UK’s largest wind turbine component-manufacturing plant at Green Port Hull.”

Over recent years, together with its customers, ABP has invested over £300 million to support the growth of offshore wind. ABP’s ports have supported the installation of over 500 turbines and provide support to over 7GW of offshore wind – over half of the UK total.

ABP’s existing ports on the West Coast of Scotland at the entrance to the Firth of Clyde – the Ports of Ayr and Troon – have recently also played an important role in supporting the delivery of onshore wind projects including the South Kyle windfarm and Kirk Hill.