Private sector money follows British government support of offshore wind energy

Offshore wind power in the UK received a huge boost of confidence on Monday with announcements that a number of international energy companies were going ahead with plans to invest heavily in the growing sector of wind turbines.

That the announcements came less than a week after the government signaled it would provide about €68m for port upgrades despite massive cuts to programmes and personnel proves once again that offshore wind farm power is becoming a key part of a new green economy.

The Wall Street Journal reported that GE, Siemens, Mitsubishi and Gamesa said they will invest more than €450 million in the UK’s offshore wind power sector after the government announced a funding package to upgrade British ports so that they could handle the next generation of offshore wind turbines.

Gamesa said it intends to choose Britain as the worldwide centre of its offshore wind energy business, and plans to invest up to €150 million there by 2014.

In a press release, the company said its offshore industrial plan calls for the creation of a centre for offshore technology and the construction of one turbine blade manufacturing plant.

Gamesa added it will conduct its offshore business’ port logistics and turbine operation and maintenance services from different UK ports and London will be the global headquarters of its offshore division.

“I want us to be a world leader in offshore wind energy,” the press release quoted Prime Minister David Cameron as saying. “That’s why we’re committing public money to ensure we have the infrastructure that attracts major manufacturers to come here and build their offshore wind turbines.”

Siemens announced “that the company is well on track to build its UK wind turbine factory ready for 2014, creating around 700 new jobs.” Siemens said it intends to produce its new direct-drive offshore wind turbine with a capacity of 6 MW at the new facility, which will require an investment of €90 million.

The Wall Street Journal reported that GE has also re-affirmed its plan to invest €113 million in the UK’s offshore wind sector developing offshore wind turbine manufacturing facilities and locating design, application and service engineering resources in the UK, creating up to 1,900 new jobs by 2020.

The newspaper added that Mitsubishi had also confirmed it was proceeding with an investment of up to €113 million in a wind power research and development program in the UK.

By Chris Rose,