East of England Wind Farms Attract Far East Interest
Growing interest from Japan, Korean and China in the world’s windpower market has extended to the massive wind farm developments planned off the East of England.
The countries want to create more wind energy at home but also have a watchful eye on the potential of lucrative markets off the UK.
James Gray, inward investment director for the East of England Energy Zone (EEEZ), said he was well aware of increasing interest by the Japanese and Koreans in wind farm developments in the Southern North Sea and had been in direct discussions with some of their representatives.
He is also talking with members of the increasing number of Chinese delegations visiting the UK.
Most are becoming higher profile and a number of Chinese companies had stands at Renewables UK Offshore Wind Conference in Manchester including a large representation from Jiangsu Province where many of China’s offshore energy businesses are based. Building on a strong relationship with the East of England, Jiangsu Province members hosted a networking reception and dinner which was attended by around 30 Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth business executives.
Some of the Chinese businesses later visited the two towns and their ports and met supply chain members.
While Chinese and other Far East companies are looking at the opportunities in the Southern North Sea, the Far East will be an exciting market for East of England companies with their extensive experience in offshore energy. Recently Norwich-based Tyco Fire & Integrated Solutions had secured a £5m deal with Chinese energy company Cosco to supply hydraulic chemical injection equipment for use offshore.
”It’s also no secret that the Japanese are into renewable energy after the meltdown of the Fukushima atomic plant and Tokyo’s decision to gradually phase out nuclear power,” said Mr Gray.
”Whether they want to learn from us or look for a slice of the UK market is uncertain; probably both. But it’s clear that major engineering companies such as Mitsubishi are developing and expanding their offshore wind turbine manufacturing capacity.
”On our own doorstep, we saw the Marubeni Corporation and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) last year acquire ownership of Seajacks, the Great Yarmouth-based company with a fleet of self-propelled jack-up vessels working offshore.’’
Seajacks has also recently set up a Seajacks Japan office and is looking for business for its vessels in that area.
Mr Gray believed that Japanese innovative technology meant its turbines could soon also be ready to compete in Europe.
Japan was following up provisional work in Europe on floating offshore platforms and Mitsubishi had announced plans for a new 7MW turbine for semi-submersible floating platforms off the Fukushima coast.
South Korea is also in the market, aware that it boasts one of the world’s most potent wind resources. Top priority is for a 2.5GW offshore wind farm project to serve its initial needs. Companies like Hyundai are now more visible in the European Offshore Wind sector.
”However you look at it, there will be opportunities to export our skills or attract Far East investment into our region. We are a world leader in offshore energy experience and we have the world’s largest offshore wind market on our doorstep.” said Mr Gray.
”The EEEZ can offer them a unified approach, great skills, ports and available land and vast experience in the offshore energy field dating back 50 years.”
Press release, July 30, 2013; Image: