Caithness firm JGC has key role in Moray East wind farm milestone
A CAITHNESS firm has played a key part in a major milestone being reached at the £2.6 billion Moray East offshore wind farm.
JGC Engineering and Technical Services constructed eight of the 12 massive containers which will form the three substation platforms at the site, off the Caithness coast. They will act as the nerve centre for the development and will house all the electrical equipment as well as providing emergency refuge.
Company director Stephen Sutherland said yesterday the multimillion-pound contract from Siemens was "very positive news" for JGC and could lead to other opportunities with the company.
He also revealed that the firm, which employs 120 people at its bases at Harpsdale, near Halkirk, and Janetstown, on the outskirts of Thurso, is bidding for work on two other offshore projects.
"We are in discussions about that now and should find out about them by the end of the year," Mr Sutherland said. "It is important the company does a variety of work in Caithness, including offshore wind, nuclear and oil and gas to retain jobs."
He pointed out that the Siemens contract was not only good news for JGC but the wider Caithness economy as the multinational company had staff in the area which benefited Wick John O'Groats Airport, local accommodation providers, shops and restaurants.
The last four containers will be shipped from Scrabster this weekend and be taken to Antwerp in Belgium where they will be fitted out. Some JGC staff will be involved in the work there.
Mr Sutherland said the firm was awarded the contract – its third from Siemens in the past five years – in November.
The fabrication works carried out by JGC are a fantastic example of the kind of high-skilled, technical work that companies in this area are capable of
"We employed around 60 people on the project, including up to 10 apprentices, giving them an opportunity to hone their skills in a new and developing sector while delivering what has been described by our client as an excellent quality product," he said.
Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said: "The fabrication works carried out by JGC are a fantastic example of the kind of high-skilled, technical work that companies in this area are capable of, and it was great to see so many other local supply chain companies like Hugh Simpson Contractors involved in the delivery of this project.
"This is also demonstrates the transport assets available to companies doing business in Caithness, with the final products shipped out through Scrabster harbour, just a few miles from the fabrication site."
She added: "Offshore renewable energy is set to bring major opportunities to the north Highlands in the coming years, with projects like Beatrice now in the operations phase and Moray East and West moving forward with construction.
"Looking to the future, DeepWind [the floating offshore wind turbine cluster] has the potential to bring significant future investment in this sector, and this project demonstrates that Caithness has the capabilities to meet the advanced manufacturing and supply chain requirements that these projects will have."
Once the containers have been fitted out they will be lifted onto the offshore substation platforms, where cabling and equipment will be added, and sailed out to their locations in the Moray Firth in summer 2020.
The wind farm, beingbuilt by developers EDP Renewables, Diamond Generating Europe and Engie, is expected to produce enough electricity to power almost a million homes.