Dong Energy drops the biggest hint yet that Grimsby is home for Round Three wind work

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 19 Aug 2016

THE biggest hint yet that Grimsby will play host to Dong Energy’s huge Round Three offshore wind operations and maintenance teams has been dropped.

High level talks between North East Lincolnshire Council leader Ray Oxby and the Danish giant’s UK country chairman, Brent Cheshire, have brought glowing overtones for the town and the progress made over recent years.

Hornsea Project Two was granted Government consent earlier this week, as initial works continue on Hornsea Project One.  

They are the largest wind farms in the world, from the global leader in the renewables sector.

While the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy forecasts 580 permanent jobs with the latest multi-billion pound investment from Dong, which remains subject to board approval, it is understood this is based on some early industry modelling, and may not account for duplication in a cluster like Grimsby has become, and major efficiencies made as the offshore wind sector matures. 

Resources are also split between Dong and the turbine and blade suppliers, but it is still likely to see upwards of 300 jobs created, following more than 150 already in Grimsby.  Others could well be located in Hull, where Siemens' presence is rapidly ramping up.

Councillor Oxby and Mr Cheshire met the day the Secretary of State gave the go-ahead for the project, 90km off the Humber approaches. 

PICTURED IN MAY: Brent Cheshire (centre) with (left to right) Chamber President Owen Finn, Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, Ray Oxby, Chamber Vice President Phil Ascough, and Chamber Chief Executive Dr Ian Kelly at the 2016 Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards.

The leader said he was delighted with the outcome of the discussions with Mr Cheshire over the company’s plans for enhancing those facilities and its presence in the area through supporting Hornsea Project Two, which will consist of 300 turbines.

 “We’ve worked very closely with the company to help it become firmly established in North East Lincolnshire and our discussions were very positive about how they want to further develop that relationship in the future in terms of helping train people for the jobs being created and also supporting the local supply chain, which is very important to them,’’ he said.

“In addition, through supporting local events, Dong have quickly shown themselves to be part of our community and that very much chimes with our commitment to helping our residents, and our young people in particular, make the most of the opportunities in the renewables industry.

 “Brent knows we’re very much open for business in North East Lincolnshire and I took the positive tone of our discussion as an enormous vote of confidence for our port, the town, and the wider region, highlighting  the fact that the Humber really leads the way in the development of offshore wind.

 “We’ve agreed to hold further meetings in the near future on how to take forward some specific opportunities to help assist their business and enhance our area’s position in attracting new people and new investment to the heart of the Energy Estuary.”

It comes after the blow to the South Bank as Dong told how it had decided not to take the Memorandum of Understanding with Able UK further, which would have involved using Able Marine Energy Park as an assembly and staging facility, undoubtedly helping attract a wider supply chain. It had been in doubt since late autumn last year, with the East Coast port review from the Offshore Wind Industry Council, released earlier this month, apparently sealing the decision.

Dong’s expansions plans for Grimsby have seen planning consent granted for expansion to the Westermost Rough facility in Royal Dock, with a further enhanced base also mentioned in the supporting documents. 

It is understood that, together with the potential arrival of Triton Knoll, are behind the Associated British Ports push to clear redundant buildings, such as Cosalt, from the area and work up plans for the ‘Kasbar’ area.   

Mr Cheshire said:  “We’re very pleased with the consent decision for Hornsea Project Two, although there is still a long way to go in terms of taking a financial investment decision and ensuring we have the right support structures in place. 

“And we remain absolutely committed to Grimsby and the wider North-East Lincolnshire area. Our local investments like upgrading the dock gates and establishing the Westermost Rough operations base underline this, and we continue to plan for a future in the area too – building our Race Bank project out of Grimsby’s Fish Docks whilst looking to expand our current operations. 

“We’re proud of our role in the community and our support for local events like the recent Great Grimsby 10k run.”

ROUND THREE: What does it hold? contributor David Laister gives an idea...

Bigger, better, further out to sea, the likes of Hornsea and Forewind's Dogger Bank present new opportunities and new challenges too.  They are immense fields of several hundred turbines, dwarfing what is already providing critical industry opportunity in Grimsby and Hull.

No longer will these farms be visible from the coast. Sailing times will be measured in hours, not minutes.  The turbines themselves will tower over landmarks we have gazed in awe at for decades, even centuries.

Dong Energy is already using a helicopter to service Westermost Rough, and the feedback given at GRP16 suggests that will only increase when it comes to short visit requirements.

Now it takes off from Humberside, but with the right space, could even more time be saved by having them located on the port estate?

When it comes to the summer season, the scheduled maintenance regimes, then a new generation of vessel will be involved. Accommodation, to allow a shift system more aligned to offshore oil and gas, as the daily sail in impractical. Walk-to-work platforms that remove the need to transfer from a vessel pushing against the base, a heart-in-the-mouth moment for even the most seasoned technician.

Grimsby's Royal Dock has already welcomed the first of such a generation in the Esvagt Froude. Undoubtedly there will be more. 

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