Scotland launches £70m ports fund to trigger renewables revolution

Alex Salmond invites companies to bid for finance to expand manufacturing infrastructure and testing facilities.

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has today invited firms to bid for money from a new £70m infrastructure fund, designed to put Scottish ports at the forefront of the emerging offshore wind industry.

He launched the National Renewables Infrastructure Fund at the RenewableUK annual conference in Glasgow, specifically aimed at boosting port and manufacturing facilities, supply chains to manufacture offshore wind turbines and related parts.

He expects the money, which will be delivered through investment agencies Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to bring “significant” private sector investment in the next four years, deliver about 28,000 jobs and provide a £7.1bn boost to Scotland’s economy by the end of the decade.

“Today I am delighted to announce – and open for business – Scotland’s £70m National Renewables Infrastructure Fund,” he said. “Our National Renewables Infrastructure Plan has already established the most immediate needs. Together with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, we are determined to stimulate the market and act decisively to trigger vital capital investment and launch the next phase of Scotland’s renewables revolution.”

The announcement comes the week after UK energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne launched a similar £60m pot aimed at English ports. On the back of that announcement, Siemens, GE and Gamesa all revealed further plans for manufacturing hubs in the UK.

Gamesa is also making plans for an offshore wind manufacturing site in Scotland. However, it is unclear if Salmond’s announcement today will trigger an investment decision from the Spanish energy firm. Businesses have been asked to register their interest in the fund by 10 December.

Salmond reiterated his call for the UK government to remove the restrictions on immediate access to the £191m of Scotland’s Fossil Fuel Levy funds generated north of the border to invest in renewable industries.

“Together with industry, we must and we will continue to press the Treasury to release these funds now due to Scotland,” he said. “They remain vital for the development of offshore wind and marine power, for heat networks and technology to deliver our renewable heat targets; and vital too for our communities, so they can invest in and benefit from the green economy.”

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