Britain’s offshore wind industry has been significantly bolstered by several recent projects which are serving to make Britain home-base for the manufacturing and development of offshore wind farms around the world.
Britain is already one of the leading offshore wind energy markets, with 5.1 GW of offshore wind already generating electricity and another 4.5 GW of offshore wind under construction. Britain’s offshore wind energy industry has also been held up by the industry’s trade body as a massive economic and industrial opportunity for the country to export its offshore wind expertise to countries around the world.
The growth of Britain’s offshore wind industry has only grown over recent years, and recent announcements and project completions have only solidified the industry’s potential for further growth.
Europe’s largest engineering company, wind turbine developer Siemens, is officially opening its new world-class offshore wind plant in Hull today. The £310 million redevelopment of Alexandra Dock by Siemens and Associated British Ports represents a massive step forward for the country’s offshore wind energy industry. The new plant will create 1,000 jobs — 700 of which have already been filled by British locals. The site is the size of 78 (British) football pitches, and includes a factory which will manufacture hundreds of Siemens’ 75 meter turbine blades for its industry-leading 7 MW and next-generation 8 MW wind turbines.
The UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP, will visit the plant today to inspect the first turbine blade to be manufactured, which will be among the first supplied to DONG Energy for the Race Bank offshore wind farm being developed off the coast of Norfolk and Lincolnshire.
“This is exactly the relationship we want to see between our large infrastructure projects in the UK and our supply chain companies as part of our industrial strategy,” said Mr Clark. “Hull has established itself as an important manufacturing and engineering centre for this innovative and exciting new industry. In the coming years the new offshore wind projects that this factory will supply could generate enough clean electricity to power over three million homes and businesses — all with wind turbine blades produced by the dedicated and highly skilled Siemens workforce right here in Hull.”
“Innovative, large-scale manufacturing for Britain’s offshore wind industry, as Siemens are doing here in Hull, is a key part of our nation’s modern industrial strategy,” said Hugh McNeal, Chief Executive of the offshore wind energy trade body, RenewableUK. “It’s great to see a major international company building on Yorkshire’s proud manufacturing history. Siemens is one of many trailblazers investing in this sector right across the UK. Offshore wind developers are committed to maximising the amount of locally-made kit in their projects, to ensure that we all reap the economic benefits of renewable energy — including opportunities to export, capitalising on Britain’s global lead in offshore wind.”
Britain’s offshore wind industry expertise was similarly highlighted in a recent announcement which saw Irish-based heavy industrial company Harland and Wolff announce that it had been awarded the contract to supply the steel foundations for the 714 MW East Anglia One offshore wind project being developed by ScottishPower Renewables.
“We are a UK trade body, so for us UK jobs are always good news,” Hugh McNeal said in response to the announcement. “This contract in Northern Ireland demonstrates the offshore wind industry’s commitment to using local companies to build their projects as well as securing 200 jobs in Belfast. Harland and Wolff is an iconic company with 150 years of construction history, and it’s great to see renewable energy will be playing an important role in its future. We’re confident that British companies will be able to win similar work not only here, but around the world, as the industry continues to grow.”
To round it all off, Swedish power company Vattenfall announced today the signing of leases totaling 24 years with the Aberdeen Harbour Board to become the first offshore wind operator to invest long-term in the port’s facilities. Specifically, Vattenfall will establish its construction team’s base within the Rgent Centre by next month, and will also move into a warehouse unit at Commercial Quay — all at Aberdeen Harbour — to support the construction, commissioning, operation, and maintenance (as well as the eventually decommissioning) of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC).
“Establishing a long-term centre of operations in Aberdeen has been fundamental to our project plans,” explained Adam Ezzamel, project director for the EOWDC at Vattenfall. “We are pleased to have found a suitable location so near to the wind farm with the support of Aberdeen Harbour Board.
“Aberdeen Harbour is a natural fit for our operations while the EOWDC is a flagship project for the region and its Energetica corridor. As a hub of innovation, the project will reinforce the North-east’s global energy status by leading the industry drive towards generating clean and competitive wind energy power.”
“Whilst Aberdeen Harbour has supported both onshore and offshore renewables projects many times in the past, we very much welcome this long-term commitment to the port by Vattenfall,” added Colin Parker, Chief executive at Aberdeen Harbour Board. “We believe that our location and modern facilities are ideal to support this work, and this agreement typifies our continued strategy for diversification of harbour activity, to the benefit of the Region.”
The EOWDC has been in the news a lot lately, thanks in huge part to its successful High Court win over now-US President-elect Donald Trump’s challenge to the construction of the offshore wind farm. The EOWDC is set to be a test-bed for offshore wind projects, and earlier this month Vattenfall announced the shortlisted projects which will eventually be narrowed down to a few which will participate in a €3 million scientific research program to investigate the environmental impacts of offshore wind.