Plans to build a “game-changing” operations base in Grimsby to serve the nation’s growing list of offshore wind farms have been hailed as “fantastic news” by the town’s political and business leaders.
The operations and maintenance hub developed in Grimsby’s Royal Dock will create 200 jobs and will be the largest base of its kind in the UK, according to Danish firm DONG Energy, which is behind the £20m project.
This represents a massive vote of confidence in North East Lincolnshire and our ability to attract multinational companies to our area.Ray Oxby, North East Lincolnshire Council
It will initially support and maintain the Westermost Rough, Race Bank and Hornsea Project One offshore wind farms off the coast of Lincolnshire, but has the capacity to serve DONG’s future developments.
The firm’s UK chairman, Brent Cheshire, said the hub would be a “game-changing, industry first”. He said: “It will generate direct and indirect job opportunities in the Humber region, as well as opportunities for the local supply chain.
“It represents a massive vote of confidence to the UK offshore wind industry and confirms our commitment to the Humber region where by 2019 we expect to have invested around £6 billion.”
The hub, which will sit alongside the existing Westermost Rough operations and maintenance facility, will be served by high-tech vessels capable of accommodating up to 60 crew and technicians while remaining at sea for long periods, according to DONG.
Service Operational Vessels (SOVs), supplied by Norwegian firm Ostensjo Rederi and designed by Rolls-Royce, are being chartered to operate from the new hub.
The first vessel will arrive late next year and will initially support the operation and maintenance of Race Bank, DONG’s 580-megawatt offshore wind farm currently under construction 17 miles off the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coastlines.
David Hooper, external affairs manager at the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, said the investment “will propel Grimsby to the forefront of the renewables industry”.
He said: “Brent Cheshire was our guest of honour at the North Lincolnshire Business Awards in May, where he met with key stakeholders.
“This is going to drive the success of the energy estuary and create a lot of jobs and investment for the supply chain as well and help to regenerate the Grimsby docks with a vital new facility, which will provide employment for a generation.
“It is fantastic news which I am sure will be welcomed by the local council and MPs, who have always been very supportive of DONG and their Grimsby operation.”
Ray Oxby, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said the development was “absolutely fantastic news for Grimsby and North East Lincolnshire as a whole”.
He said: “For a number of years, we’ve been building up this area as a hub for offshore wind maintenance, and to have this commitment from DONG Energy reaffirms our place at the heart of the energy estuary for years to come.
“This represents a massive vote of confidence in North East Lincolnshire and our ability to attract multinational companies to our area.
“We’re very much open for business in North East Lincolnshire across the whole energy sector and we see the industry as a vital cog in our drive to create current and future job opportunities for our communities, as well as attracting new people and new investment to the area.
“We’ll be working closely with DONG Energy over the coming months and look forward to seeing these excellent plans come forward.”
A spokesman for the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The Humber is leading the UK’s world beating offshore wind industry.
“With the region benefitting from new high skilled jobs and significant inward investment as firms choose the Humber to base their operations.”
Last month, DONG was granted planning permission for the Hornsea Two wind farm, which would see up to 300 turbines built 55 miles offshore and could generate up to 1.8 gigawatts of power, enough to power about 1.6m homes.
But in the same month, the firm revealed that it would not be investing in a planned marine energy park at Immingham on the Humber estuary. It had been expected to use the park as a hub for its offshore wind operations but said it no longer believed it was cost effective.
DONG says that some components needed to maintain wind turbines on offshore wind farms will be stored in a warehouse on the proposed hub site. Other equipment will arrive from manufacturers on a ‘just in time’ basis to be loaded onto the new vessel.
Once mobilised, the SOV will spend up to 28 consecutive days on station at the wind farm, where it will be able to service six to eight wind turbines each day.
Crews of technicians from DONG Energy and turbine supplier Siemens will work on a two weeks on, two weeks off, shift pattern.