The UK is to get a new offshore wind technology manufacturing plant, after CS Wind yesterday confirmed it is to build a new tower factory in Campbeltown, Scotland.
The company said that as a result of a “multi-million pound investment” from DONG Energy it will proceed with the expansion plans as part of a deal that gives the Danish wind energy developer preferred access rights to towers for its offshore wind farms.
The site will be the first facility in the UK that can manufacture towers for offshore wind turbines and will be located adjacent to CS Wind’s current onshore wind facilities.
CS Wind said it will be able to produce at least 50 towers a year, leading to the safeguarding of 70 jobs. The investment will also enable the company to fulfill a recent contract for 95 offshore wind towers with Siemens Wind Power.
The move was welcomed by energy minister Baroness Neville Rolfe, who said offshore wind would continue to be “a key element in delivering on the UK’s clean energy commitments”.
Last month the government confirmed plans to support a new wave of offshore wind projects through an auction of price support contracts next year, providing a boost to the sector’s medium-term prospects. Industry insiders are also hopeful offshore wind will play a crucial role in the UK’s decarbonisation strategy post 2020, as costs continue to fall across the sector.
“We have seen £52bn of investment in renewable energy in the UK since 2010, and we are supporting more offshore wind than any other country in the world,” said Neville-Rolfe. “This inward investment drives forward positive local supply chain partnerships like this between DONG Energy and CS Wind, delivering economic growth and creating jobs across Scotland and the UK.”
Brent Cheshire, DONG Energy’s UK Country Chairman, hailed investment as a boost for the offshore wind industry as a whole. “The UK is the world leader in offshore wind and a growing market for DONG Energy,” he said. “Our investment means that we and other offshore wind developers will be able to source towers in the UK, which is fantastic news not just for us but the whole UK offshore industry.”
The move comes just a month after Siemens opened a blade factory in Hull, providing further evidence of the growing domestic supply chain for the industry.
“Offshore wind is already delivering major economic benefits to the UK,” said RenewableUK’s executive director, Emma Pinchbeck. “Today’s news highlights the fact that this industry is creating highly skilled, sustainable jobs in Britain. Offshore wind developers are committed to bringing industrial benefits to the UK. Building turbine towers in Britain is a big part of this.”
Meanwhile, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, DONG Energy and A2Sea this week announced they had completed the installation of 32 of MHI Vestas’ giant 8MW offshore wind turbines at the Burbo Bank Extension project, just weeks after power was delivered to the grid from the first turbine at the site.
Claus Bøjle Møller, project director at DONG Energy, said the company was delighted to have completed the latest milestone on the project. “This is the first time the 8MW turbines have been installed offshore, so it is an exciting time for the entire industry,” he said. “By using more powerful turbines we are able to bring down the cost of providing clean, renewable energy to homes around the UK.”