Fred. Olsen 1848 backs Opportunity Cromarty Firth’s Green Freeport bid with plans for an innovative Mobile Port Solution

Fred. Olsen 1848, a renewable energy innovation company, is exploring the deployment of a mobile quayside, known as the Mobile Port Solution, as part of Opportunity Cromarty Firth’s(OCF) bid to become a Green Freeport.

Building upon the existing infrastructure and competencies for manufacturing, assembly and integration of large industrial scale floating offshore wind structures, the Mobile Port Solution will enhance the floating offshore wind supply chain and infrastructure in Scotland, not the least in the Highlands, and contribute to establishing a floating offshore wind cluster in Inverness and the Cromarty Firth.

The Mobile Port Solution is based on proven technology with minimum environmental impact and builds on existing infrastructure. A wind turbine installation vessel combined with a storage barge, will be located at a suitable location within Cromarty Firth, creating sufficient space and working conditions during the pre-assembly, pre-commissioning, and wind turbine installation on the floating foundation.

CEO of Fred. Olsen 1848, Sofie Olsen Jebsen, states: “Our journey in renewables began 30 years ago, and today Fred. Olsen-related companies employ more than 2,500 people within the renewable energy sector and have in-depth experience from offshore wind. With more than 380 employed people in Scotland across the Fred. Olsen related companies, our focus has always been to create value for the Scottish economy, local suppliers and communities.

“By setting up the Mobile Port Solution in the Firth, Fred. Olsen 1848 would provide an immediate solution for the rapid and cost-efficient installation of floating offshore wind, enabling the creation of new attractive green job opportunities, not only to the Firth but also for the UK in general. This presents an opportunity for the whole Scottish supply chain, including Fred. Olsen 1848 and other Fred. Olsen-related companies, and we support the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport bid.”

The opportunity was further described in a letter of support to OCF’s Green Freeport bid from Esben Strandgaard Kyndesen, Chief Commercial Officer of Fred. Olsen 1848. Kyndesen stated that Inverness and the Cromarty Firth has “the ideal geographical location” for a floating offshore wind cluster as recommended by the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC) in a recent independent report.

He said: “Cromarty Firth offers ideal infrastructure and competencies for manufacturing, assembly and integration of floating offshore wind structures at the size and scale required by the industry, which will be enhanced further with the innovative Mobile Port Solution.“

Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, speaking on behalf of OCF, said: “OCF is delighted that Fred. Olsen 1848 is supporting our bid to achieve Green Freeport status for Inverness and the Cromarty Firth. The importance of this status to not only the Highlands but also Scotland as a whole cannot be underestimated. It would bring skilled green jobs and high-wage opportunities on a level not seen since the 1970s oil boom.

“The Fred. Olsen 1848 Mobile Port Solution would increase available infrastructure and, used in conjunction with the excellent existing port facilities at Invergordon and Nigg, would enable the Firth to support a larger number of offshore wind projects and accelerate the shift to green energy.”

Whisky Maker Toasts Highland Green Freeport Bid

Leading Scotch whisky maker Whyte and Mackay has said the establishment of a Green Freeport in the Scottish Highlands would help it achieve its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

The firm, which is the largest distiller in the north of Scotland, is expected to be one of the first users of green hydrogen produced from a planned electrolyser on the Cromarty Firth.

And it believes its decarbonisation drive would be boosted by a scaling up of the clean gas production plant that would be enabled by Green Freeport status.

Whyte and Mackay owns five distilleries across Scotland, including Invergordon and The Dalmore on the Cromarty Firth, on the east coast of the Highlands.

The company funded a feasibility study for the electrolyser, along with fellow distillers Glenmorangie and Diageo, as well as ScottishPower, Storegga and the Port of Cromarty Firth  (PoCF).

ScottishPower and Storegga have since announced plans to jointly develop one of the UK’s largest green hydrogen plants in the area. The project’s first phase, expected to be operational in 2025, will be capable of producing up to 20 tonnes of green hydrogen a day, for use in distillery heating processes, as well as regional transportation.

The developers have said Green Freeport status for Inverness and the Cromarty Firth would have the potential to bring forward investment of more than £1billion in a larger-scale plant by up to 10 years and would place the Highlands “firmly at the centre of larger scale production” of the zero-emission fuel.

Whyte and Mackay’s Invergordon distillery is the largest in the north of Scotland and the company is one of the biggest employers in the Cromarty Firth area, with a workforce of around 130.

The firm voiced its support for the north Green Freeport in a letter included with the Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium’s bid, submitted to UK and Scottish ministers in June.

We have set a target to be carbon neutral by 2030 and we have a number of key projects to allow us to achieve this. Central to this is green gas, with a balanced approach between bio gas and green hydrogen.

We plan to begin taking green hydrogen from the electrolyser when operational; initially requiring two tonnes of green hydrogen per day. This is expected to rise to six tonnes per day by around 2030. This will require an infrastructure capex spend of circa £4-6million by 2030.

We are also heavily investing in a green biomethane anaerobic digestor plant that would have green hydrogen blended into its supply to allow us to generate enough green, carbon free gas to meet our ambition before 2030.

The Cromarty Firth area is of central importance to our business and where we also hold the vast majority of our maturing whisky inventory.

The freeport tax incentive can help accelerate the scale-up of the electrolyser and also reduce the cost of green hydrogen. This is important to allow us to achieve our ambitious decarbonisation goals and also to allow us to be competitive, as we encounter the cost disadvantages by operating in a semi-rural location, almost 200 miles from our bottling and distribution plant in Grangemouth.

The Opportunity Cromarty Firth submission is centred in the areas where we have our largest distilling and maturation footprint and we are fully supportive of the consortium and the benefit it can bring to our area and the community within.

Whyte and Mackay’s Distilling Director, Shane Healy

We would like to sincerely thank Whyte and Mackay for their strong expression of support for our bid.

They, along with Glenmorangie, Diageo, ScottishPower and Storegga have been instrumental in driving the development of a green hydrogen industry in the Highlands and fully support the scaling up of that industry that can be accelerated by the award of Green Freeport status.

As well as helping decarbonise industries, it is a sector that will play an important role in the drive towards regional and national energy security, creating high-quality green careers and supply chain opportunities.

With Green Freeport status for Inverness and the Cromarty Firth, there is a real opportunity for the UK to secure its position as a global leader and leading exporter of this clean fuel alternative.

Commenting on behalf of OCF, Port of Cromarty Firth Chief Executive, Bob Buskie,