THE largest shipbuilding company in the world is exploring opportunities to build floating offshore wind turbines in the Highlands.

The recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Scotland’s enterprise agencies and South Korea-based HD Hyundai Heavy Industries could bring economic benefits for the region, according to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) chief executive Stuart Black.

HIE and Scottish Enterprise signed the MoU with the company in Edinburgh on Tuesday, committing each other to pursue opportunities for floating offshore wind projects in Scotland.

It builds on recent announcements of international investment into the renewable energy supply chain in Scotland, including the planned £350 million Sumitomo cable factory in the Inverness and Cromarty Firth green freeport area, with up to £24.5m in public sector support.

READ MORE: Chinese renewables giant set to build Scottish wind turbine plant

HD Hyundai Heavy Industries is a major manufacturer of equipment such as the floating substructures that form a critical part of the multi-billion-pound offshore wind supply chain.

After signing the new MoU, HIE chief executive Black said: “Scotland, and particularly the Highlands and Islands, has been at the forefront of renewable energy development for the past 20 years or more.

"We’re seeing growing interest in our region from overseas investors looking at opportunities to establish operations here, the most recent of course being the plans by Japanese company Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd (SEI).

“This new MoU with HD Hyundai Heavy Industries is a great opportunity to explore and facilitate the company’s interest in Scotland. We look forward to working with Scottish Enterprise in taking this forward and ultimately securing economic benefits for the Highlands and Islands region and Scotland.”

The National: Offshore wind farm

It comes after a new report found that more than £2 billion is needed for the Scottish Government to deliver on its plans for a just transition.

It also follows the announcement by the First Minister of strategic investment of up to £500 million over the next five years to unlock private investment in ports, manufacturing and assembly work to anchor the offshore wind supply chain in Scotland.

Witnessing the MoU signing, Deputy First Minister Shona Robison described it as "a vote of confidence" in Scotland’s green economy and ability to develop important international relationships.

She added: “Scotland’s offshore wind sector is key to our transition to net zero and this partnership is the next step forward in realising the economic opportunities from our floating offshore wind potential.

READ MORE: Approval for 'major' Highland housing scheme in green freeport

“Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are playing a vital role in supporting a fair and just transition for the energy sector. Collaborations between our economic development agencies and global leaders with world-class expertise, such as HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, are key to delivering that ambition.

"This collaboration will play a key role in helping Scotland meet its climate targets.”

Hannae Choi, HD Hyundai Heavy Industries senior vice president of corporate planning division and wind energy business, said: “We are currently exploring ways to collaborate with various partners to develop the offshore wind market, including establishing a manufacturing supply infrastructure.

“We plan to expand the market by leveraging our world-class know-how in designing and manufacturing floating structures.”