The project to build the energy hub would create around 300 full time jobs and 150 construction jobs.

Under the plans, Belfast Harbour would fund and build the £40m, 450m quay and 50-acre logistics space where DONG Energy would assemble wind turbines.

If the deal is successfully signed, it will make Belfast one of the UK’s leading renewable energy hubs.

Over the next 20 years it is expected that 11,000 new offshore wind turbines will be built in UK and Irish territorial waters at a cost of around £100 billion.

Belfast Harbour’s chairman, Len O’Hagan, said: “This initiative, which the Harbour has been pursuing for well over a year, has the potential to kick-start Belfast’s aspirations to become a leading player in the new green economy.

“Our expectation is that investment in a new offshore wind facility will help establish a new 21st century renewable cluster.

“In addition to turbine assembly operations, there may also be opportunities to attract turbine manufacturers to Northern Ireland, helping to lay the basis of a Marine Energy Park that would create significant numbers of new high-value-add jobs and inward investment.”

The UK is now Europe’s leading offshore wind generator. Currently planned offshore wind projects will generate 32 gigawatts of electricity or one quarter of the UK’s electricity needs.

DONG Energy vice president and UK country manager, Peter Gedbjer, said: “The United Kingdom has a very ambitious plan for expanding the production of renewable energy.

“We are very proud to be helping make this plan come alive and we hope to achieve a long and fruitful relationship with Belfast Harbour.”

Alison Brown

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie