UK to spend £60m on ports for offshore wind industry

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Crown Estate have signed a Letter of Intent (LiO) to support the development of ports infrastructure for offshore wind. In addition, three major wind turbine manufacturers (Siemens, GE and Gamesa) have announced plans to invest a total of up to £300m in offshore wind manufacturing in the UK.

In conjunction with the launch of the National Infrastructure Plan, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: “We need thousands of offshore turbines in the next decade and beyond yet neither the factories nor these large port sites currently exist. And that, understandably, is putting off private investors, so we’re stepping in.

“To help secure private sector investment in this technology, we’re providing up to £60m to meet the needs of offshore wind infrastructure at our ports. And to help move things forward, the Crown Estate will also work with interested ports and manufacturers to realize the potential of their sites.”

Cameron added that the measures to create up to 70,000 jobs in the UK renewable energy sector.

Funding is available from April 2011 to March 2015. Applications will be considered by the independent Industrial Development Advisory Board, which will advice DECC Ministers who will make the final decisions on funding.

GE, which plans to invest £100m to develop offshore wind turbine manufacturing facilities and locate design, application and service engineering resources in the UK, welcomes the news.

Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, says: “We are very pleased that the UK Government has recognised the need in ensuring that its port infrastructure can support the manufacturing of next generation wind turbines.

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s plans to support port infrastructure, and reinforce the importance of the government continuing to create long-term certainty for offshore wind manufacturers and developers by committing to a sustainable financial structure.”

Part of GE’s plan is the development of its 4 MW direct drive offshore wind turbine.

RenewableUK Director of Policy, Dr Gordon Edge, adds: “We are delighted with the Prime Minister’s announcement today on the decision to retain the ports infrastructure fund, even more so as we are seeing an immediate positive reaction from turbine manufacturers detailing their investment plans.”