Milestone moment: Grimsby's 1GW economy in offshore wind

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 27 Jun 2017

GRIMSBY is now controlling 1GW of offshore wind energy! 

The milestone for the installed capacity served by the town was passed as Dong Energy added the latest turbines at the emerging Race Bank farm, off the Lincolnshire Coast.

With 893MW from the first five offshore wind farms operated from Grimsby, the latest batch of 6MW machines installed and ‘plugged in’ by the Danish giant has passed the magic 1,000 MW number.

And in a clear example of how the industry is scaling up, Dong’s next project – Hornsea Project One – will more than double that total in one project.

The world’s largest offshore wind farm, as it will become, will bring 1.2GW ashore, with cables now being laid from Horseshoe Point to a special £25 million onshore substation at North Killingholme.

The industry has brought hundreds of new jobs, scores of companies and billions of pounds of investment to the town, with the dawn of a new economy breathing confidence into the civic corridors as a perception based on years of fishing decline is shook off with new money ploughed into the ports.

GOOD NEWS: Clockwise from top left, Matthew Wright; Chris Holden, Peter Wheatley, Emma Pinchbeck and Ray Oxby.

Cllr Ray Oxby, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “The last few years have seen significant changes in North East Lincolnshire, not only in our industrial landscape, but in our thoughts on developments at our ports, our partnerships and our connections. The growth of the renewables industry on the Port of Grimsby has been radical and we’re proud to support this now, and will continue to do so in the future.” 

Colleague Cllr Peter Wheatley, portfolio holder for regeneration, added: “This is a fantastic milestone in the growth of the renewables industries in our area. The renewables industry forms one of our key strategic sectors here, and we’re in a strong, market-leading position with the long-term operators of the operations and maintenance contracts choosing to base themselves here.”

It all started with the dual sites of Lynn and Inner Dowsing, brought forward by Centrica. Work began a decade ago off the Skegness coastline. Turbines of 3.6MW were used, with 27 at each site, providing a total capacity of 194MW.

Lincs followed, in deeper water behind, with Centrica again using the same Siemens technology, only this time on a much larger scale. There 75 turbines provide a 270MW capacity, and it remains – at present – the largest operated out of Grimsby, having been officially opened by then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in 2013.

Humber Gateway, E.on’s development just north of the mouth of the Humber and the one clearly visible from Cleethorpes, added a further 219MW with 73 MHI Vestas 3MW turbines. Dong Energy’s first project in Grimsby, Westermost Rough, brought a scale change, with 35 Siemens turbines with 6MW of capacity installed off Hornsea, then the biggest machines in the world.

Race Bank is now at 20 installed turbines, with a further 71 to go – shipping out from Hull – to eventually provide 573MW of capacity. It will take the number of turbines controlled from the port to 328 and see Grimsby’s operational capacity nearing 1,500MW.

The town has already been described as being “the poster child of offshore wind industrialisation,” and “what Aberdeen is to oil for offshore wind,” now with the numbers, the job creation is building. Dong is heading to 500 employees, with more than 100 directly involved with the initial three farms that have subsequently been sold on by Centrica. Humber Gateway also provides more than 50 full time roles at North Quay.

But the activity goes much deeper than this. Grimsby Renewables Partnership is a business organisation that helps provide a crucial link between developers, their supply chain needs, and companies in the area. 

Chris Holden, director, estimates that more than 1,000 people are now directly and indirectly employed in offshore wind. He worked for RES in Grimsby, the company that first helped The Crown Estate identify the Lincolnshire coastline’s opportunity in the sector, and is now general manager for Offshore Painting Services in Port of Grimsby East. The sub-contracting support base has gone from two companies to more than 30, with many making the town a permanent base too, bringing inward investment and developing the cluster. He said: “Since late December 2008, when Lynn and Inner Dowsing first began producing electricity, there has been an increasing interest in this emerging industry and what it can mean to our economy. With a reliance on marine and engineering skills, and the need for vital services, often at short notice, the town has excelled itself in making this industry work. We look forward to furthering the involvement of businesses in the Grimsby-area in the supply chain, while welcoming inward investment to serve this surge in new technology.”

He gave examples of the likes of high voltage specialists HTV to the likes of PME Group, who maintain the engines of work boats and has set up a branch in Stallingborough.

Recognition is national too.

Executive director of leading trade body RenewableUK, Emma Pinchbeck, said: “Grimsby’s leadership in offshore wind is the result of hard work and support from businesses, local communities and politicians. This has led to massive inward investment, and the Humber region is now a vital cog driving this innovative British industry forward. It is exciting to know that there is more to come as the global market for renewable energy powers up. Grimsby is a great example that if we use our natural resources correctly and invest in technologies of the future, then we can create significant opportunities for communities all over the UK.” 

And the recently appointed managing director of Dong Energy UK, Matthew Wright - who was in Grimsby last week to meet the teams and community stakeholders - said: “1GW of offshore wind capacity off the coast of Grimsby is a fantastic milestone and really underlines how the area has become a leading hub for renewable energy not just in the UK but worldwide.

"We’re extremely proud of our operations in Grimsby from our construction base in the fish docks to the state-of-the-art operations facility in the Royal Dock. We already have over 100 people working in the area, which is set to rise, and look forward to being part of Grimsby’s starring role in offshore wind for many years to come.”

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