A JAPANESE firm has agreed to invest an estimated £350 million into a major energy project in the Highlands.

Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan made the announcement today (February 23), adding that a £24.5m Scottish Government grant helped secure Sumitomo Electric Industries’ investment in the new cable factory for the offshore wind sector at Nigg.

The recently designated Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport was reportedly a key factor in the company’s decision to invest in the Highlands.

Sumitomo Electric manufacture the cables which will be used to connect hundreds of offshore wind turbines now being planned for Scottish waters.

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The new plant will reportedly create around 330 jobs over the next ten years, 265 of which will be in the Highlands and Islands including 156 well paid manufacturing jobs on site.

McAllan – in her first speech since taking over the energy portfolio – outlined her vision for “delivering on the economic opportunities” of Scotland’s transition to net zero.

Addressing business leaders in Edinburgh, she said: “The future of the global economy is green – and I think it's my job and our job collectively to make sure that Scotland can derive the greatest possible benefit from that future.

"Our Green Industrial Strategy will be a key tool in helping business and investors realise the enormous opportunities ahead.”

The minister went on to announce the creation of a “Techscaler hub” in the US, which will link start-ups in Scotland with Silicon Valley.

The project will provide office space for 12 fledgling firms in San Francisco, California.

She said: “Today I am announcing a pilot Techscaler hub in Silicon Valley to help promising start-ups from Scotland in areas from health technology to space, build contacts with international investors and customers.

“My commitment is to take an approach across the whole of Government to actively listen, engage and communicate – to help achieve business success and in turn Scotland’s economic success.”

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]Yasuyuki Shibata, chairman of Sumitomo Electric Industries, said: “Sumitomo Electric Industries is a forerunner in the global offshore power cable manufacturing market.

“Establishment of a Sumitomo cable making facility, producing state of the art cable, in the United Kingdom, specifically Scotland and the Highlands, is testament to the support received from all stakeholders involved in the project.”

Shibata continued: “We are particularly thankful for the backing received from the UK and Scottish governments, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Development International in this venture – Sumitomo’s first cable manufacturing facility located in the western hemisphere.

“We look forward to actively contributing to the local economy, through direct and indirect job creation, and to becoming an integral and active member of the Highland community.

“Product from our factory will not only be of the highest quality but will form a vital contribution to the supply chain, as Scotland and the UK deliver their net zero energy ambitions.”