An effort is underway transform the UK’s oldest brownfield port into a vast energy transition facility that will include a manufacturing hub for floating wind foundations, a £300m “green steel” mill, and an advanced concrete production plant.
Ardersier Port – around 14 miles east of Inverness – was once one of the largest oil rig fabrication yards in the world, but the 400 acre site was closed in 2001.
The site’s transformation will begin with a £20m, nine-month ‘capital dredge’ – removing 2.5 million cubic metres of sand which will open up the massive port once more. Once the dredging is complete next summer the site’s new owners – businessman Tony O’Sullivan and civil engineer Steve Regan – will build a bespoke slipway which will allow floating oil and gas structures to be hauled onshore prior to removing all contaminants and decommissioning them.
Over the next five years Ardersier Port plans to deliver an oil rig decommissioning facility; a waste from energy recovery facility designed specifically to deal with special wastes; a £300m green steel plant powered by offshore wind and energy from waste; a concrete production plant utilising dredged sand from the port, and a dedicated floating wind hub for concrete floating wind foundation manufacturing.
“We can lead the UK’s Green Industrial Revolution by using circular economy practices to deliver new low carbon infrastructure built on the by-products of our oil and gas past,” said Regan.
Meanwhile, commenting on plans to build a green steel plant at the site O’Sullivan said: “Today, the UK exports ten million tonnes of scrap steel annually. By building a new renewable-powered electric arc furnace at Ardersier Port, the first new-build steel mill in the UK for 50 years, we will utilise a million tonnes of scrap each year. ….our green steel mill will be revolutionary: it will be the only place in the world where the scrap from decommissioning is processed into steel.”
The Floating Energy Allyance – which includes BW Ideol, Elicio and BayWa r.e – plans to manufacture all its floating concrete foundations in Scotland and has welcomed the plans to bring production to Ardersier Port.
“The lack of large infrastructure is a bottle neck to deliver the number of floating foundations required for the UK market’s ambitious development plans, both in terms of local content and the production rate expected. Ardersier Port is a unique facility to unlock these constraints,” said BW Ideol’s CEO, Paul de la Guerivier. “By securing exclusive access to Ardersier Port, BW Ideol is reaffirming its commitment to manufacture its floating foundations locally, maximising the benefit for Scotland and the rest of UK, without conditions.”