Magna's new multi-million pound factory in Sunderland

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The factory is expected to bring in over 400 direct jobs in manufacturing once it is fully operational, providing re-skilling opportunities for oil and gas workers as Britain pushes ahead with the green energy transition. The factory will also create more than 1,800 indirect jobs across the UK. Global Energy Group (GEG), which owns the Cromarty Firth site, struck a deal with Haizea Wind Group, a leading offshore wind tower manufacturing specialist to build the £110million state-of-the-art facility off the Port of Nigg in the Scottish Highlands.

Nigg Offshore Wind (NOW) will be a 450 metre long, 38,000m2 factory, capable of rolling steel plate to supply towers, which will weigh in excess of 1,000 tonnes each.

The factory will also manufacture other products like supply towers and other large tubular components for the offshore fixed and floating wind industry in the UK and abroad.

It should be capable of producing up to 135 towers per year, expected to bring a boost to the already booming UK offshore wind industry.

Construction is expected to start in January, subject to the project reaching financial close by the end of the year.

The site preparation, construction and commissioning is expected to take around 18 months and will provide over 1,200 full-time equivalent job years across the supply chain in building works and equipment supply.

Commercial production is expected to begin by 2023.

Subject to successfully achieving financial close, NOW will get financial backing totalling £15million in debt from SSE Renewables.

Funding will also come from Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund and global wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power (MRP).

And the Scottish Government is set to provide some funding too, via the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and the UK Government, via the offshore wind manufacturing investment support scheme (OWMIS).

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We need bold, collective action to tackle the global climate emergency, and the growth of our renewables sector over the next ten years will be truly transformative, helping to deliver a just transition to net zero and a greener, fairer future for us all.

“This significant investment in Scotland’s energy sector is testament to the skills, expertise and innovation within our industry.

“We are delighted to financially support this cutting-edge offshore wind towers facility, through Highlands & Islands Enterprise, as it reaches this significant milestone, that will deliver high value, green jobs and bring multiple benefits to communities across the Highlands and beyond while playing a pivotal role in delivering offshore renewables growth in Scotland and further afield.”

Tim Cornelius, chief executive of GEG, said: “The continued focus on a just transition to a carbon-neutral economy has received fresh impetus as a result of the impact of COVID-19 and the Scottish and UK governments are looking for opportunities presented by the now inevitable energy transition from a dependency on hydrocarbons to clean and sustainable sources of energy, to create jobs and generate sustainable economic growth.

“Without the support of SSE, this factory would not be built.

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“We also have to thank Mainstream Renewable Power for their drive and commitment to securing this key strategic asset for Scotland.

“They have played a pivotal role in making this happen. Both companies are taking leadership positions that the rest of the sector should seek to emulate.

“They are putting their money where their mouths are and we will now look to repay the faith they have in us by creating an indigenous supply chain that will be the envy of Europe.”

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