DONG Energy will have invested £5.4 billion in developing offshore wind farms off the coast of North West England by 2019, a new report has revealed.
The investment is delivering significant benefits to the local economy across the region especially in the Liverpool region, Cumbria and Northern Ireland, creating jobs and helping local supply chain businesses to grow.
With four offshore wind farms already operation off the North West coastline, DONG Energy is currently constructing two more including the 660 megawatt Walney Extension which, on completion in 2019, will eclipse the London Array as the world's biggest offshore wind farm.
The combined output of the company's North West offshore wind farms will be capable of meeting the electricity needs of over 1.5 million UK homes.
The new report – The Economic Impact of DONG Energy Investments in the East Irish Sea – has been produced by Regeneris Consulting, an independent economic development and generation consultancy. It has been launched today at the International Festival for Business 2016 in Liverpool, of which DONG Energy is an official supporter.
Brent Cheshire, UK Country Chairman of DONG Energy said: "This report highlights the far-reaching regional benefits of DONG Energy's investment in offshore wind projects off the coast of North West England. Our green energy projects are delivering a significant boost to the local economy, sustaining a local supply chaiin and creating jobs for local people.
"The wind farms we are developing in this region are enabling us to place large-scale contracts with UK suppliers which acts as a catalysis for further investment and upskilling benefits across the suppy chain."
He added: "We are also bringing cutting-edge engineering to the region with innovations such as the 8 megawatt turbines – the world's most powerful at present - we are about to install in Liverpool Bay for the Burbo Bank Extension project. Not only will these turbines help us reduce the costs of offshore wind, the order has helped to support 200 jobs at the MHI Vestas blade manufacturing factory on the Isle of Wight."
The Regeneris report highlights some of the benefits offshore wind projects are delivering in the North West:
- Supply Chain development: Contracts let by DONG Energy and other offshore wind developers have supported the growth of local supply chain to around an estimated 140 businesses in the Merseyside area. These businesses are now in a strong position to win further business in the offshore wind sector
- Cammell Laird: In the last five years, offshore wind sector opportunities in the East Irish Sea have enabled Cammell Laird to diversify. Through a £10 million investment in new infrastructure – supported by funding from Wirral Council – it now provides construction port lay-down space and engineering services for offshore wind farms including DONG Energy's Burbo Bank.
- Bibby Hydromap: This Wirral-based business priding hydrographic and geophysical survey services has secured work from several DONG Energy Irish Sea wind farms. They gave been able to expand their team from 40 to over 100 skilled staff over the last five years.
- Hughes Subsea Engineering: This integrated subsea services firm started 10 years ago and, significantly supported by contracts won from DONG Energy, has expanded its workforce to 35 people and invested over £400,000 in new equipment.
- Community funding: DONG Energy has committed to investing £15 million in coastal communities along the Cumbria and Lancashire coast, as part of its Walney Extension Community Fund. This funding will see £600,000 invested every year in supporting skills development, community facilities, nature conservation, community services plus sports and recreation. The fund will continue for the 25-year operational lifetime of the wind farm. A similar fund is also open for the Burbo Bank Extension project.
The report states: "Establishing an offshore wind supply chain requires a pipeline of wind farm investments over a sustained period. With a total of £5.4 billion investment in East Irish Sea wind farms between 2005-2019, DONG Energy has provided this sustained investment for the area."
The overall £5.4 billion investment includes £2.7 billion investment across the four currently operational wind farms – Barrow, Walney, Burbo Bank and West of Duddon Sands – and a further estimated £2.7 billion investment in the two extension schemes, Burbo Bank Extension and Walney Extension.