Orkney Harbour: New Green Energy and Clean Fuel Initiatives
Orkney’s Infrastructure Legacy
Orkney has a rich history of significant infrastructure projects, dating back to the construction of the Ring of Brodgar, which reshaped our understanding of the sophistication of Neolithic society. Today, innovation continues to thrive on the archipelago, exemplified by the recent Islands Growth Deal, a £393 million investment package expected to create over 1,000 jobs. For Paul Olvhoj, business development manager at Orkney Islands Council’s Marine Services, the Harbour Authority has a crucial role to play in building a sustainable future for the region.
Clean Fuels for Shipping
Olvhoj believes that clean fuels for shipping will be a critical requirement to achieving the UK and Scottish Governments’ net-zero targets. He stresses the need for strong public and private investment in offshore wind port infrastructure to diversify and strengthen the local economy and secure the future of Orkney’s piers and harbours.
Scapa Flow: Europe’s Largest Natural Deep-Water Harbour
Investment in Scapa Flow, Europe’s largest natural deep-water harbour, is critical to achieving the goal of decarbonisation. The harbour has already become a pivotal location for ship-to-ship transfer operations, marine support services for offshore wind farms, and the development of low and zero carbon fuel technologies. Last year, the addition of three new vessels to augment harbour operations demonstrated a major investment by the Islands Council.
Orkney Harbours Masterplan
The Orkney Harbours Masterplan, launched in 2020, underpins the strategy for the Harbour Authority. The plan outlines the development and future-proofing of the 29 piers and harbours in the port’s estate, including the new Scapa Deep Water Quay, which will be the largest pier in the estate. With an area of 125 square miles of sheltered water, Scapa Flow offers a range of berthing and anchorage options, making it a critical location for energy transition and decarbonisation.
Orkney’s plan for a Cleaner and Greener Future
Orkney as a Preferred Location for Energy Transfer and Storage Orkney has been recognized as northern Europe’s top choice for ship-to-ship transfer and long-term storage of crude oil, gas, and other products. The masterplan for the islands aims to position them at the forefront of a cleaner and greener future for Scotland. The plan involves working with technical advisors and environmental consultants to achieve a “shovel-ready” stage.
Challenges to Overcome
The first challenge to achieving the masterplan is obtaining consent, followed by planning permission and funding. The expansion of wind turbines in Scotland and ongoing pipeline projects provide a significant market opportunity. However, de-risking the project for Orkney and the Islands Council is crucial. A clear financial strategy is needed to attract funding into the projects.
Reducing Carbon Emissions through Emerging Technologies
Reducing carbon emissions from industry, both on land and sea, is the most significant current challenge. Exciting emerging technologies being developed in the waters around the islands against an acceptable level of cost are key to the port’s success. The port infrastructure needs to progress quickly to ensure that the window of opportunity is not missed. Collaboration with the region, the rest of Scotland, and the UK is necessary for the benefit of all.
Importance of Cromarty Firth Port Selection
The recent selection of the Port of Cromarty Firth as the region’s first green freeport port is of major importance for the whole of the Highlands and Islands. Collaboration with Cromarty and all our neighbouring ports and harbours in the region is vital to ensure we make the most of the opportunities from the Green Freeport decision.
Plugging Vessels into Local Renewable Energy Sources
The ability to plug vessels, such as cruise ships, into sources of local renewable energy is an objective of the masterplan. Planning permissions given for onshore windfarms in Orkney will enhance interactions with cruise companies to ensure that shore power and future fuels are integral to ongoing projects.
Balancing Economy and Community Needs
The development of green energy sector jobs and an excellent supply chain is vital. The Harbour Authority is regularly engaging with the community to ensure that the masterplan is moving in the right direction. Links with schools and the next generation of technicians and engineers are also being formed to ensure future prosperity. Developing the economy must be balanced with the needs of the local community in a remote and largely rural archipelago.