Nigg Energy Park could get work from Moray Firth wind farm
A fabrication yard in Easter Ross could play a part in the construction of an offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth.
Global Energy Group and Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL) have agreed to explore the potential for the Nigg Energy Park to be involved.
MORL has proposed installing 62 turbines.
First Minister Alex Salmond witnessed the signing of the agreement and also announced £6.5m of government funding to redevelop the quayside at Nigg.
He said: "Offshore renewables represent a huge opportunity for Scotland to reap both economic benefits and become a power house of green energy.
"That is why it is important to support the new Nigg quayside development - which in turn will see a £190m additional turnover, and £462m in aggregate over the first three years of operation."
The MORL project was one of two planned for the Outer Moray Firth that was given approval from the Scottish government in March.
The two neighbouring projects - from MORL and Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited - involve a total of 326 turbines.'New jobs'
The Scottish government said the combined development off the Caithness coast would be the world's third biggest offshore wind farm.
The project could generate electricity for more than a million homes.
If constructed, the scheme would have more turbines than the 175-turbine London Array.
It would also be the third largest in the world after the planned South Korea Electric Power scheme off the south-west coast of the Korean peninsula, and the Blekinge project in the Baltic Sea off Sweden. Each could generate 2.5 gigawatts of electricity.
Work for up to 4,600 people could be created at the peak of the construction of the turbines, and the combined scheme would be worth up to £2.5bn to the Scottish economy.
Highland Council leader Drew Hendry said Nigg was "ideally located" to capitalise on the potential of renewable energy.
Mr Hendry said: "These are exciting times for the people of the Highlands as the advantages of our region are being realised."
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks welcomed the agreement and government funding towards the cost of upgrading the quayside at Nigg.
He said: "As well as creating new jobs in the area, securing this type of support is an important step to ensuring offshore wind projects can be built.
"Scotland is home to a quarter of Europe's offshore wind resource.
"If Scotland is to meet its climate change targets and decarbonise its energy sector then it's vital that we begin to tap that resource sooner rather than later."