One of the world’s largest renewable energy companies, Danish-based DONG Energy, intends to assemble wind turbines at Belfast Harbour, creating 150 construction jobs and, potentially, 300 permanent jobs. Belfast’s is the only harbour in Ireland with the capacity to host the 50 acre construction site.
DONG is one of the world’s leading energy companies, with extensive offshore windfarm capacity, including in the Irish Sea and off the coast of Scotland, England and Denmark, plus onshore windfarm sites in Poland, Norway, Sweden, France and Denmark. DONG also holds oil and gas exploration licences in the UK. It has been nominated as one the world’s most innovative companies by The Financial Times.
Peter Gedbjerg, DONG Energy Vice President and UK country manager for the power sector, said: “The United Kingdom has a very ambitious plan for expanding the production of renewable energy. We are very proud to be helping make this plan come alive and we hope to achieve a long and fruitful relationship with Belfast Harbour. The possibility of a tailor-made facility to make the installation of offshore wind turbines even more efficient fits perfectly with DONG Energy’s goal of bringing down the construction cost of renewable energy.”
Gedbjerg added: “The size of the harbour is suitable, the location of the harbour is suitable, we have had some very fruitful negotiations and we are impressed with the people here.” He continued: “We are confident for the future because we do know Belfast has been a centre of industry in the past.”
DONG has been active in the wind power industry for over 20 years and operates an offshore windfarm at Burbo Bank, near Liverpool, and jointly operates another in the Irish Sea off the coast from Barrow-in-Furness. It is also developing a new site at Walney, also off Furness, along with a further six projects in or around the UK, in sole or joint ownership.
Belfast Harbour is to invest £40m in the new 50 acre hub, under the terms of the outline agreement. It is estimated that over the next two decades, about 11,000 wind turbines will be installed around the Irish and UK costs, meeting about 25% of the UK’s total electricity needs. A quarter of the sites will be located within 150 nautical miles of Belfast Harbour.
Len O’Hagan, Belfast Harbour’s chairman said: “This initiative, which the Harbour has been pursuing for well over a year, has the potential to kick-start Belfast’s aspirations to become a leading player in the new green economy. Belfast Harbour has a long track record of investing in new infrastructure, such as the dry docks and quays which helped make Belfast the ‘shipbuilder to the world’, or the aerodrome which laid the basis for Belfast’s aviation industry.
“In similar vein, our expectation is that investment in a new offshore wind facility will help establish a new 21st century renewable cluster. In addition to turbine assembly operations, there may also be opportunities to attract turbine manufacturers to Northern Ireland, helping to lay the basis of a Marine Energy Park that would create significant numbers of new high-value-add jobs and inward investment.”
The energy hub at Belfast Harbour will help cement the city as a world leader in the renewable energy sector, with Harland & Wolff already established as a major player in the industry – constructing in its yards both wind turbines and tidal energy generation equipment. H&W committed itself strongly to the market after conducting a review of the renewable energy sector four years ago, concluding that it offered significant opportunities for diversification and expansion. Belfast Harbour has clearly reached a similar conclusion.