Port of Inverness is delighted to have played a key role in the successful Inverness and Cromarty Firth bid for Green Freeport status. As the celebrations abate, we’re now mapping out what the new Green Freeport will look like, what it will mean for the local economy and how we can maximise the benefits which will undoubtedly accompany our much-welcomed new status.
Several of the companies involved in the consortium behind the new Green Freeport are set to build wind farms off the north and east coasts, recognising the immense potential of the area for generating renewable energy and the opportunity that exists to build a world-class centre of excellence for the still emerging floating wind technology which allows wind turbines to be sited in deeper waters further offshore where the wind conditions are ideal for generating the maximum amount of green electricity.
The challenge will be to build these offshore projects in a sustainable way, keeping as much of the materials needed off the roads as possible. Port of Inverness and other ports and harbours across the country are set to play a vital role in decarbonising the supply chain for many of the upcoming offshore wind developments.
Research shows that shipping is by far the greenest and most efficient mode of transport. Compared to large trucks which emit on average 80 g of CO2 per kilometre and container trains which weigh in at 35g of CO2 emitted per kilometre, a large bulk carrier ship like the ones that call in at the Port of Inverness emits a meagre 2.5g of CO2 per kilometre travelled.
It seems logical then that shipping should play a major role in the new Green Freeport whilst also helping Scotland meet its stringent emissions targets. Moving goods by sea over short distances and without crossing oceans – short sea shipping as it’s known – currently accounts for roughly 40% of all freight moved in Europe. With one of the vessels that berths at Port of Inverness able to carry the same amount of goods as 100-200 trucks, transporting goods by ship is also far more efficient and cost-effective than road transport.
Like many other simple solutions to man-made issues short sea shipping has been around for hundreds of years. Establishing a modern-day sea motorway would help cut our climate damaging emissions but also result in smoother faster trade, reduced transport costs for businesses and easier stock control and management.
Shipping has already played a significant role in delivering renewable energy projects. With our extensive laydown areas and excellent road links, Port of Inverness has been the port of entry for several onshore wind farms over the years and our team have successfully delivered many projects all over the Highlands and Moray.
Our expertise can also be used to deliver other forms of green energy developments. As part of a move to address the issues of energy security and the intermittency of renewable energy production there are currently a number of pumped storage hydro schemes in the pipeline for the Great Glen. Acting in the same way as a very large battery, pumped storage hydro can be an important part of the energy generation mix, overcoming the problem of energy from wind only being produced when the wind is blowing.
As energy security becomes a more critical issue with the energy challenges resulting from the war in Ukraine, the importance of this traditional well-established technology which has been used in Scotland for decades is becoming clear. Again shipping has a vital part to play in ensuring these projects are built in an environmentally friendly way which ensures their benefits are not lost in the construction phase.
Port of Inverness is also home to, and joint owners of, the success story that is Inverness Marina. Full since the day it first opened, the financial benefits of Green Freeport status will allow us to move the marina slightly further up the Firth, extending it in the process and increasing the number and size of yachts it can welcome.
We also have plans to expand our cruise ship business, bringing more of the exclusive smaller cruise vessels to Inverness for a warm welcome in the Highland capital, from here visitors can easily travel to the many attractions on our doorstep, ensuring the economic benefits from our new Green Freeport status benefit businesses all around the Highlands.