RenewableUK has welcomed comments made by the Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon about UK job creation in the offshore wind industry, at the official opening of Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm, off the coast of Suffolk.
At the opening ceremony, Mr Fallon said: “The UK leads the world in offshore wind power generation with more capacity than the rest of the world combined, and we want to see this sector grow even further. This sector is an engine of our economy. By the end of this decade, tens of thousands of additional jobs could be created in the supply-chain for offshore wind throughout the UK.”
The £1.6 billion project includes an investment of £500 million in UK companies, including contracts for Seajacks in Great Yarmouth which provided the enormous vessels to install the 140 turbines, JDR Cables based in Hartlepool, and Bifab in Fife, which supplied massive foundation support structures.
100 permanent jobs have been created in Lowestoft at the operations and maintenance base for the wind farm, with 95% of employees coming from the local area. Ongoing maintenance and service contracts to come over the next 20 years will be worth an extra £100 million to the total value of the project.
RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith said: “This project really shows the opportunity at hand for British companies in the offshore wind industry. Greater Gabbard alone has already brought half a billion pounds of new investment to companies across the UK. This opportunity is here and now, and UK companies are rightly seizing the chance to become part of the burgeoning offshore wind supply chain.”
Greater Gabbard is the world’s second largest operational offshore wind farm, with an installed capacity of 504 megawatts – enough to power 530,000 homes – more than the electricity demands of all of the homes in Suffolk. Located 23 kilometres from the coast, it is furthest from the shore, and in the deepest water, of any operational UK offshore wind farm.
The project will double in size when the 504MW Galloper extension is completed in 2017.
The UK has 21 operational offshore wind farms with an installed capacity of 3,653MW – enough to supply nearly two and a half million British homes with clean electricity.
Press release, August 7, 2013; Image: RWE