Harland and Wolff is the most famous name in Northern Ireland’s old manufacturing sector. It is also the most famous name in one of its newest and most exciting manufacturing sectors – renewable energy generation.
Five years ago Harland and Wolff began a diversification strategy based on its desire to use its ship-building skills and resources in other sectors. Alongside the ship-building operation, the company entered what it regarded as prime growth industries that were compatible with its traditional expertise – these included the manufacture of renewable energy and offshore facilities.
In a review of the renewable energy market three years ago, Harland and Wolff identified several specific commercial opportunities. This led to it developing its expertise with regards to offshore wind farms and the exploitation of tidal and wave power.
The move has proven very successful for Harland and Wolff, which has received what it describes as “a steady flow of commissions” for the building of power generation equipment, as well as structures for the offshore oil industry.
Recent contracts include an off-shore wind farm comprising 30 large wind turbines that are now installed off the Cumbrian coast in the Irish Sea; a 60-turbine offshore wind farm to be installed off the south west coast of Scotland; a 3000-tonne under sea structure that is the base of a central transformer for off-shore wind farms which has been installed 100 miles off the north German coast; a prototype wave energy generator, which is being trialled in Galway Bay; and assembly of the marine turbine unit being used in Strangford Lough for tidal energy generation.
One of the newest contracts was won from Scotrenewables (Marine Power) Ltd for the manufacture of a 250kw Tidal Turbine (SRTT) full size prototype, which is to be used at a test facility in Orkneys. Scotrenewables’ Project Leader Mark Hamilton said: “We have chosen Harland & Wolff to construct the SR250 prototype because of their outstanding pedigree in the field of ship-building, offshore oil & gas and more recently offshore renewables. Their project support to date has been extremely valuable and we look forward to completing construction at their facilities by the end of this year”.
Harland and Wolff Manufacturing Manager Trevor McCormick explained: “We are delighted to be involved in this project. We have a strong track record in the marine renewables sector and understand the importance of this prototype and the trust that Scotrenewables are placing in us. We look forward to working with them and seeing the prototype prove itself.”
As a result of the sector diversification, Harland and Wolff is working at full capacity on a continuing basis, employing over 120 engineers and designers, with up to 400 people in total working on a regular basis.