PM’s offshore wind ambition welcomed by world-leading developer

Huge backing from the Prime Minister for offshore wind to power a green recovery and resurgence for the UK has been welcomed by industry leaders.

Boris Johnson has told how all of the UK’s electricity could come from the renewable source as he ramps up delivery to 40GW by 2040 – which at full capacity could power every home.

It is a 33 per cent increase on the initial target in the Offshore Wind Sector Deal and comes with a £160 million port and manufacturing fund and the promise of 60,000 jobs, with 2,000 in the very near future.

Orsted, the company that has led the deployment off Britain’s coastline, said the Prime Minister’s “landmark offshore wind speech” at the Conservative Party’s virtual conference “unlocked huge opportunity” – with a 10GW target uplift.

Duncan Clark, the company’s lead figure in the UK, “We welcome today’s announcement from the government which will underpin the delivery of at least 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 and unlock huge opportunities for world class UK supply chain companies, both domestically and overseas, to market the skills and innovative technologies that have been fostered in the UK offshore wind industry.

“Offshore wind is the most cost effective way to achieve the UK’s net zero ambitions and delivering 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 is an essential part of this roadmap. “This is a challenging target but achievable if Government and the industry continue to work together to accelerate deployment and build out the UK project pipeline as quickly as possible, regenerating coastal communities while expediting our progress to a more sustainable, low-carbon future.”

Duncan Clark, head of UK region for Orsted.

Orsted’s Hornsea Two – the next world-leading wind farm – is now emerging in the near North Sea off the East Yorkshire coast too, with consent awaited on a third farm in the zone, already home to current world leader, the 1.2GW Hornsea One.

The Humber, Tees and Scotland have all been trailed as beneficiaries, with 2,000 jobs in the near future.

The announcement was made just days after a huge port facility on the Humber secured an agreement with a South Korean manufacturer to build the large steel monopiles that are piled into the seabed to hold the turbine structures in place.

The development at Able Marine Energy Park could create 400 jobs, with negotiations ongoing with other manufacturers and supply chain operators to make the investment in the build-out of the quay viable.

Able UK executive chairman Peter Stephenson said its development on the River Humber is “uniquely placed” to deliver the ambition set out.

“That the Prime Minister, even in these difficult times, chooses to focus on the burgeoning offshore wind sector is proof positive that the Government is seeing the bigger picture and wishes to grasp this singular but time limited opportunity.

A new visualisation of how a completed Able Marine Energy Park could look. September 2020.
A new visualisation of how a completed Able Marine Energy Park could look.
(Image: Able UK)

“Of course, the reality is that before we can talk about manufacturing and maximising UK content, we need to put the building blocks in place and the fully consented Able Marine Energy Park is uniquely placed to deliver the ideal UK solution. Working closely with a number fo government departments, we are committed to bringing this development to fruition.

“We are at varying stages of negotiation with a number of manufacturers who clearly recognise the strength of the UK’s offshore wind sector and who, just as significantly, are fully embracing the need to establish a new ‘world-scale’ industrial cluster on the Humber.

“Only last month the Korean manufacturer SeAH confirmed that it had signed an exclusive Memorandum of Understanding with AMEP to establish what would be the UK’s first large-scale monopile production facility.”

The 33 per cent target increase has also been welcomed by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy – the company that has built the majority of the turbines now operational in UK waters, with a huge blade plant in Hull.

“We’re delighted that the output gains & speed of deployment of entire offshore wind farms has been recognised by the PM as key to delivering Net Zero, while ensuring best value for money for British families and businesses,” Clark Macfarlane, managing director for offshore in the UK business said.

Andy Sykes, plant director in Hull for Siemens Gamesa, said: “Today’s announcement of £160 million investment in ports and factories to manufacture next-generation turbines in the UK is fantastic news for us, the UK’s energy estuary.

Andy Sykes, plant manager at Siemens Gamesa's Hull offshore wind turbine blade plant.
Andy Sykes, plant director at Siemens Gamesa’s Hull offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing facility.
(Image: Siemens Gamesa)

“Wind turbine technologies continue to evolve at rapid pace and to achieve the government’s ambitious targets, continued investment in innovation and infrastructure will be required. As the largest provider to the UK market, we have ourselves invested in our Hull facility since opening in 2016. Originally producing a 75 metre blade, the factory was redesigned to make larger scale 81 metre blades last year.

“Having delivered offshore wind turbine blades for five UK wind farms, its skilled workforce are now making blades for the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Hornsea Project Two. 

“With government support, the UK has the opportunity to be a greater provider to a market which is developing globally. Siemens Gamesa, Hull exported wind turbine blades to Belgium this year and has future projects in Germany and Denmark in the pipeline.

“We are delighted that the leaps that the industry has made in both the speed of deployment, the reduction in price of electricity and the ability to create jobs in many locations throughout the UK has been recognised by the Prime Minister.

“Offshore Wind is as a key component towards delivering Net Zero, while also ensuring best value for money for British families and businesses. With such positive endorsement from Government, the industrial infrastructure can Build Back Greener, deliver thousands of jobs and power every UK household with clean, green energy.”

The Hull plant was held up as an example of what is required to honour the PM’s pledge by Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, He said: “If we’re going to harness the full economic potential of a renewable energy revolution, it’s critical that we build more of the supply chain here in the UK – not overseas for the assembly, as is currently the case for a number of upcoming projects.

Hornsea One offshore wind farm.
(Image: Orsted)

“The Siemens blade factory in Hull serves as the archetypal example of how the North can lead the way in the green recovery.

“While this promised investment in places such as Teesside and the Humber is a step in the right direction, we need to be far more ambitious when it comes to other green sectors found across the North, including small modular reactors, carbon capture and storage and the opportunities that gives in negative carbon emissions and for hydrogen, with R&D though opportunities like Net Zero North, a key part of decarbonising domestic heat.

“These industries together have the power along with local solutions and smart technology to put us in the lead of the fourth industrial revolution in energy, securing hundreds of thousands of high skilled, well paid jobs and bringing us closer to our goal of Net Zero for the UK.”

In the North East, Dogger Bank is also being brought forward, with GE to deliver.

George Rafferty, chief executive of NOF, the regional energy sector business development organisation, based in Durham, said: “The government’s announcement demonstrates the increasing importance of offshore wind to the UK’s energy requirements and its economy and creates a real opportunity to deliver further investment and jobs to the North East. The region is well-placed to support the growth of the industry, based on its industrial heritage and the role it has played in offshore wind from the very outsight. As a result, the North East has the skills, capabilities within a strong cluster of companies that can deliver on the government’s net-zero ambitions.

“NOF is working closely with the developers of offshore wind farms and their main contractors to develop opportunities for UK companies, including the large cluster in the North East, to secure work from this burgeoning sector.  This latest announcement will enable investment into infrastructure and facilities that will be a catalyst to more sustainable job creation and strengthen the North East’s position as a hub for offshore wind, both in the UK and for markets around the world.”

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