How the North East is playing its role in offshore energy

The Energy sector is one of great importance for North East England, with three rivers and three strategic Ports (Ports of Tyne, Blyth and Sunderland), an abundance of existing energy businesses, key assets and development land the region is going from strength to strength in this sector.

Invest North East England is the inward investment agency for the North East Combined Authority (NECA) area, working in partnership with the seven local authorities.  In this month’s blog, John Hildreth, Business Growth and Investment Manager for Arch – The Northumberland Development Company, speaks to Invest North East England about the North East Energy Sector and the recent launch of Energy Central, Blyth, Northumberland.

The goal of achieving low cost, sustainable energy from offshore wind in the UK is one in which the North East of England has a pivotal role. With the sustained drop in global oil prices, volatile international gas markets and costs of building new nuclear power generation capability it is easy to see how the investment in offshore wind on the East coast of the UK can play its part in this complex ‘energy mix’.

The Crown Estate shows that the UK currently has around 5.1GW of capacity with independent assessments increasing up to 25GW by 2030. This increase is largely driven through innovation in scale, capacity and technology used in offshore wind.

The North East of England has a track record of driving innovation and creating new market opportunities in the energy sector, from our significant role in developing North Sea oil and gas assets through to the subsequent subsea specialism that has led to the region becoming a world recognised cluster in subsea technologies; the region continues to play a leading role.

Our drive to deliver new solutions and reduce costs in the offshore wind sector is complemented by the region’s established supply-chain capabilities and access to world class Universities and R&D capability and internationally recognised research assets such as the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in Blyth; are all underpinned by access to the great skills and talent pool on offer in the region.

Recognising this growing global opportunity for offshore energy companies, Arch –the Northumberland Development Company and the Port of Blyth, officially launched Energy Central – a premier East Coast UK energy base for the growing offshore energy sector in Blyth – at the world’s biggest offshore wind conference in London in June 2017.

The Energy Central partnership brings together nearly 200ha of development sites with deep-water quayside access and direct access to the North Sea energy basin including new and developing wind farm projects at Dogger Bank, Hornsea and Firth of Forth.

This is supported by the Port of Blyth’s track record in delivering time critical projects and handling large scale equipment, such as the world’s longest wind turbine blade, measuring over 88m which is currently under test at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult facilities in Blyth.

Energy Central is also playing a key role in supporting offshore wind innovation through the Blyth Offshore Wind Demonstration Project, which is being built by EDF Energy Renewables; a UK joint venture between EDF Energies Nouvelles and EDF Energy, and will act as a demonstrator site for the next generation of offshore wind technologies and installation methods.

This project, which will be mobilised from Energy Central, uses the latest generation offshore wind turbines manufactured and includes advanced 66Kv cable technology. The concrete gravity base foundations for the project are being built in the North East by Royal BAM Group and are the first of their kind in the world to use a brand new ‘float and sink’ installation method.

EDF Energy Renewables is utilising the Port of Blyth’s South Harbour as a mobilisation and ongoing Operation & Maintenance (O&M) base for the lifetime of this new offshore wind farm, which is being installed later in the summer around 6.5km off the coast of Blyth.

EDF Energy Renewables also chose to invest in new premises to base their project office during the construction phase of the development at Arch’s state-of-the-art Blyth Workspace building at Energy Central’s Commissioners Quay.

The power generated by the wind farm will be supplied to a newly installed electricity substation at Northumberland Energy Park Phase 1 site for transmission to the National Grid, providing enough low carbon electricity to power 33,000 homes.

This project is complemented by the recent news that the North Sea Link – the world’s longest subsea inter array cable which will provide critical energy security for both the UK and Norway, has also chosen to invest into Energy Central’s Northumberland Energy Park Phase 2.

These developments highlight Energy Central and the North East of England as a hub for UK offshore energy with the investment made by the Port of Blyth and Arch in the right infrastructure dovetailing with the number of suppliers based nearby and the innovation and technology development taking place at Offshore Renewables Energy Catapult (OREC) making a significant contribution to the sector.”

For more information – please visit www.energycentraluk.co.uk or call the Arch team on +44 (0)1670 528 400

John Hildreth

Business Growth and Investment Manager

Arch – The Northumberland Development Company

 

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