How Grimsby will shape the mould for offshore wind being made in Taiwan

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 8 Dec 2017

TAIWAN’S top UK official is using a visit to Grimsby to try and gauge what constitutes best practice when it comes to entering the offshore wind industry.

Dr David Lin arrived in North East Lincolnshire for a two-day tour of the cluster, well aware how the Humber is leading the country’s low carbon transformation

The representative talked at length with industry figures and civic leaders as his home nation looks to ramp up green energy generation as it turns its back on nuclear.

A target of 20 per cent has been set for 2025, with the figure at 5 per cent currently – chiefly onshore wind and solar. 

Having welcomed a regional government delegation in late summer, the arrival of such a high-ranking diplomat has underlined the attention to getting it right, and acting quickly. It came against a backdrop of Orsted working through a consent period for a four zone development there and Siemens Gamesa looking at establishing a factory as it eyes up the Asian market.

The Taiwanese government is looking to invest more than £35 billion in development in waters 110 miles off the eastern coast of China. Just like the UK, Taiwan is seeking to exploit its island status, with more than 1,000 turbines off the coast.

Dr Lin said: “It is very interesting. I am very impressed. Offshore wind is the most important target for our energy development because government has a very ambitious goal to establish renewable energy.”

“Up to 2025 we need to build capacity to 3GW. That means that from this year on we are already taking some action, and moving forward.”

 Alongside Siemens Gamesa and Orsted, Dr Lin sees opportunities for other businesses who have forged relations with them to join them.

“We are trying to see how you are doing it. I do feel that for the next few years offshore wind is going to get more and more important in our energy sector. We are trying to learn whether the UK can be a good business model for Taiwan to emulate. We are trying to assess if it is something we can learn from, not only setting up an offshore wind farm, but in the process, in doing this, how we can build up our own industry. We have shipbuilding capability, steel milling and significant technology in telecoms, which are very important. We feel we have many elements. How to build up and understand what we do is important.

“We feel that because you are doing this, integrating all the different components, with training at Catch, with Siemens and Orsted, there is everything that is needed to create a more effective cluster for renewable energy and offshore wind.  I am convinced you are providing some valuable experience that has been built up throughout the past decade in developing offshore wind farms to the scale they are here. To see Grimsby, the partnerships, we are very grateful, and for the welcome.”

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers accompanied Mr Lin as host, with Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Councillor Ron Shepherd, providing an official civic welcome for a nation, that despite being one of the furthest geographically, may well develop close affiliations. Grimsby already has an official partnership with New Bedford, Massachusetts, and has hosted a Maryland delegation earlier this week.

Mr Vickers, who visited Taiwan in the summer recess, said: “It is always a great opportunity when representatives of governments of other countries want to get out from London and into the ‘real world’. 

“Taiwan is very keen to develop renewable energy when we first made contact they knew that the Humber was a major centre for offshore wind. 

“It is an opportunity for local businesses and organisations to hear about opportunities that exist and we may be able to build on this. We can look for opportunities over there and we are happy to help facilitate this. The British Government has a trade envoy to Taiwan in Lord Falconer and I know he is more than willing to come up and meet us.

“I have also met ministers and the officials at the Department for International Trade and they are very supportive of any opportunities that come forward.”

And putting context into the visit, with three civil servants joining Mr Lin to fact-find, Mr Vickers added: “Have a senior representative of a foreign government up to the area is very positive, and David is a highly respected diplomat who has held many senior positions in Taiwan, where when it comes to international roles, I know their two top jobs are heading up the London and Washington offices”. 

Taiwan – which does not officially have its own embassy due to a continuing dispute with China – has a population of 23.5 million, just over a third of the UK, but concentrated in one sixth of the landmass.

Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Cllr Ron Shepherd, welcomed Mr Lin to the borough, presenting him with a plaque to mark his visit. Addressing him ahead of a buffet lunch at Grimsby Town Hall, he said: “We are delighted that you are able to visit North East Lincolnshire which has emerged as a key player in the renewable energy revolution with potential to become the UK capital of the offshore wind industry. Our vision is that by 2032, North East Lincolnshire will be nationally and internationally recognised as the UK’s leading region for low-carbon energy and the UK capital of the renewable energy industry.” 

Joining the Mayor, economic development officer David Robinson and directors of Grimsby Renewables Partnership at the welcome, Cllr Ray Oxby, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “It is great we are getting recognition as a centre for renewables, not just regionally or nationally, but internationally. We are welcoming people from Taiwan, we are more than happy to assist, and it shows this is the place to be.”

Dr Lin took in Philips 66, which operates the Humber Refinery in South Killingholme, and is involved in research work looking at improving renewable energy storage, as well as Catch, Port of Immingham, and Port of Grimsby, with a visit to Orsted’s expanding East Coast Hub. 

READ MORE: Today's main headlines from Humberbusiness.com

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