Leith's £40m renewable hub set to become base for constructing new windfarm in North Sea

The proposed £40 million renewables hub at the Port of Leith will become the home base for energy giant BP and German partners EnBW to build a new windfarm if they win a licence for the development.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 4:55 am

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Setting up the windfarm in the North Sea would be expected to take three or four years, but BP said the project could mean activity at the site for decades to come.

And plans by Forth Ports to include green manufacturing facilities as part of what will be Scotland's largest renewable hub could mean some of the components for wind farms would be made in Leith.

Forth Ports' newest tug Inchcolm took the German minister on a tour of the port Picture: Liam Anderstrem/Airborne Lens

Forth Ports unveiled its plans for the hub on a vast site at the waterfront in May, forecasting to up to 1,000 direct and 2,000 indirect jobs. Work is expected to start mid-2022 and take around 18 months to complete.

The BP/EnBW partnership has already promised some investment in the hub and will invest further if it wins its 2.9GW bid for a licence as part of the ScotWind leasing round by the Crown Estate.

A total of 74 bids have been submitted, with around ten expected to be available. The winners are due to be announced in January.

Thekla Walker, minister for the environment, climate protection and energy in the German state of Baden Württemberg, where EnBW is based, visited the port on Monday with senior representatives of the two partners.

A vast area of the waterfront will become Scotland's largest renewables hub Picture: Liam Anderstrem / Airborne Lens

Felipe Arbelaez, senior vice-president of zero carbon energy at BP, said Scotland was uniquely placed to lead the energy transition by harnessing decades of skills and experience built up in the offshore oil and gas sector.

He said: "We've put forward a very comprehensive bid, which not only includes development of the offshore wind capacity but also integrating that into renewable energy offers in Scotland.

“We've indicated we would look to ramp up our electric vehicle charging network to 4,000 charging points in Scotland. We're working with Aberdeen in developing a hydrogen hub so we could integrate renewable power with hydrogen capacity in Aberdeen and potentially in Edinburgh, again to develop a hydrogen hub, powering public transport but over time potentially also powering the marine industry which could help decarbonise the support operation for the offshore wind projects and potentially even hydrogen exports in the future."

BP would use the hub as a marshalling area for the blades, towers and other components for the wind turbines where they could be loaded onto the installation vessel and taken out to the North Sea.

Thekla Walker, minister for environment, climate protection and energy in Baden Wurttemberg joined representatives of from BP, EnBW and Forth Ports Picture: Liam Anderstrem/Airborne Lens

Mr Arbelaez said more than one operator might well decide to use the facilities at the Port of Leith.

"In addition to that you could also support the operation out of Leith, which could continue for three or four decades. Some of these leases are as long as 50 years, so you could see activity continue for many many years. And typically offshore wind farms are repowered after 20-25 years so you will see a reinvestment in the lease, when you have to replace key components of the turbines.

"There is a very interesting opportunity to consider integration of manufacturing of some of the components of the wind turbines and we also believe Edinburgh offers the skills, the capacity, the talent that can support all this activity.”

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