Triple business bonanza for UK offshore wind

The extent of the UK's booming business environment for the offshore wind industry and its supply chain have been demonstrated with three major announcements in the space of 24 hours.

The development of the UK’s first commercial offshore wind towers; a new joint-agreement to develop a 900MW offshore wind farm; and the provision of a licence which will allow the world’s second largest windfarm access to the onshore grid were all announced on Friday, consolidating confidence in the nation’s world-leading offshore wind industry.

Offshore wind tower

The first bit of good news came when CS Wind UK – as subsidiary of the South Korean CS Wind Corporation – confirmed it has been awarded Regional Growth Funding from the UK Government Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) to build an offshore wind tower manufacturing facility in the Humber region.

The new facility will become CS Wind’s European headquarters and generate almost 200 direct jobs in the local area, as well as a significant additional number of jobs in the local supply chain.

“We are delighted to be able to announce our intention to make this investment in the UK today,” said CS Wind’s UK managing director David Ryu. “This grant will enable us to accelerate our investment plans and provide confidence to the industry that we want to deliver a long-term cost-competitive tower to serve the European offshore wind market.”

Giant farm

A second bit of good news came when two major offshore wind developers – RWE Innogy and Statkraft – announced that they’re entering into a 50/50 partnership to develop the 900MW Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm, 20 miles off the coast of Lincolnshire and 28 miles from the coast of North Norfolk.

The new offshore wind farm will power the equivalent of 800,000 UK households a year; creating around 1,900 UK jobs during the construction phase.

Welcoming the new partnership, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “This is another vote of confidence in the world’s number one offshore wind market which is continuing to attract investors from all over the world, creating thousands of green jobs in the process. We have created the right conditions in the UK for the offshore wind industry to flourish and have attracted around £7bn worth of offshore wind investment since 2010.”

£352m link

Rounding off the flurry of good news, Ofgem announced that it has awarded a licence to a British consortium to own and operate the £352m transmission cable connection to RWE’s Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm, off the coast of North Wales.

The wind farm features 160 Siemens 3.6MW turbines; two offshore substations, 161 inter-array cables, four export cables, an 11km onshore underground cable route and a new 132kV/400kV onshore substation near St Asaph in North Wales. It is expected to generate enough energy from renewable sources for about 400,000 households.

Future certainty

Commenting on this triple offshore wind business bonanza, RenewableUK’s director of offshore renewables, Nick Medic, said: “The benefits to the UK are clear: thousands of new job opportunities, millions more in investment, and a great deal more home-grown clean electricity enhancing our energy security. These announcements demonstrate that if you want to do business in offshore wind, Britain is the go-to destination.”

The UK is leading the way when it comes to offshore wind power, with a 54% share of offshore wind turbines fully connected to the grid in 2014. But across Europe, the industry is calling for policymakers to provide long-term funding certainty, as latest figures from the European Wind Energy Association reveal the market for development will be a lot quieter this year and ‘slump’ in 2016. Read more offshore wind news here.

Luke Nicholls

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