DONG Energy’s Race Bank Takeover Good for East of England
The decision of energy giant Centrica to pull out of a windfarm project 17 miles off the North Norfolk coast could prove to be good news for the area.
James Gray, inward investment director for the East of England Energy Zone (EEEZ), said he was delighted to see Danish company DONG Energy Power (UK) invest £50m in taking over management of the Race Bank project off Blakeney:
“DONG is the market leader in offshore windpower and the UK is one of its main markets so this could prove a very positive move. With the site between Norfolk and Humberside there is a compelling case for much of the work generated to come to our region.
“I’ve already been in touch with DONG to open the doors for business in Norfolk and Suffolk and offer a welcoming hand. They will be well aware that our key ports Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Wells have all supported offshore wind farm development supported by a vibrant supply chain and offshore expertise dating back 50 years.
“There is little doubt that DONG mean business and we want to encourage them to bring some of their investment here and enjoy benefits from the unique and unified public/private partnership behind the EEEZ.”
Mr Gray thought Centrica had pulled out not because of concern about the Race Bank project but increasing doubts about its overall energy investment.
Earlier this year, Centrica also withdrew from its part in the construction of up to four new European pressurised nuclear reactors in the UK, including Hinkley Point and Sizewell.
And in September, the company decided not to proceed with its new-build gas storage project at Baird in the Southern North Sea and to put another project at Caythorpe in East Yorkshire on hold indefinitely.
But DONG recently acquired a 33.3% stake in the first two offshore wind projects in the massive Round 3 Hornsea zone off the East Coast. It also operates four UK offshore windfarms at Barrow, Burbo Bank, Walney 1 + 2, and Gunfleet Sands and is the majority shareholder in the world’s largest offshore windfarm London Array.
The company also acquired a 25% stake in the 270MW Lincs offshore windfarm off Skegness from Centrica in 2009.
On the other side of the UK, Belfast Harbour this year handed over its new £50m offshore wind terminal to DONG and ScottishPower Renewables. It’s one of the most advanced purpose-built offshore wind installation and pre-assembly sites in the world and will be used initially to support the development of the West of Duddon Sands Wind farm in the Irish Sea, a joint venture between the two companies.
Benj Sykes, from DONG Energy, said the Race Bank project off Norfolk fitted their existing plans to develop UK offshore wind projects.
Much of the preliminary work was done and Samuel Leupold, executive vice president of DONG Energy Wind Power, said he was confident of turning it into a successful project.
Press release, December 24, 2013; Image: DONG Energy