EXCLUSIVE by Scottish-UK-Energy News Correspondent
Jonathan Cole, Managing Director, Scottish Power Renewables, which is developing the £2 billion East Anglia-1 102-turbine wind farm and submitted a new planning application for East Anglia-3 – has told a wind-ustry conference at Orbis Energy, Lowestoft, that the East of England is now the centre of the offshore wind industry.
The event came shortly after Scottish Power Renewables announced Lowestoft port as East Anglia-1’s chosen port and operations and maintenance base and submitted its East Anglia-3 plans and RWE Innogy revealed Lowestoft would be Galloper’s operations and maintenance centre.
Before the conference, local MP Peter Aldous (Waveney) took a helicopter tour of the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm and the East Anglia Array zone with the Scottish Power chief.
Cole said: “The level of interest and enthusiasm in this room is utterly palpable. You are working in a sector with huge potential that is already succeeding in reducing costs and are on course for £100mw per hour by 2020 and in the next decade it will be between £80-90.”
“Offshore wind is attracting huge investment capital from new sources and if we put our destiny back into our own hands and if we can meet these cost reduction targets, we will earn our place in the energy mix for decades to come.
“This industry is hugely flawed if it has a need for subsidy enshrined in its business plan. We should not squander the opportunity we have been given.”
A UK content target of 50% by 2020 – currently 43% – was on target with a “huge amount of “impressive UK companies” among tenders for contracts, added Cole.
But Halfdan Brusted, vice-president for wind projects for Statoil – developers of the Dudgeon and Sheringham Shoal wind farms – said: “The UK supply chain in this industry is really competitive compared to the rest of Europe.”
Scottish Power Renewables and Statoil were joined by fellow developers SSE, RWE Innogy and Vattenfall at the conference. Each was accompanied by one of their suppliers, including Windcat, Sembmarine SLP, GE Grid Solutions, Siemens and Subsea Protection Systems, who also made presentations about innovation, how to transfer skills from oil and gas to renewables and collaboration between supply chain companies.
Companies hoping to win contracts in the £25 billion UK offshore wind farm investment must be innovative and competitive to be part of it, leading developers have urged.
Businesses supplying services, products and skills to help meet the target of at least half the content of new wind farms coming from the UK must cut their costs in line with the government challenge to the industry.
The UK supply chain was already competitive compared to the rest of Europe, more than 250 supply chain representatives were told at an event to celebrate Offshore Wind Week.
And it has a key role to support the developers achieving subsidy-free offshore wind.
UK Energy Minister Amber Rudd’s announcement last week that the government would support 10GW more of offshore wind farms with three auctions this parliament if the industry cut its costs was a “hugely progressive step,” a leading developer said.