The Government’s Offshore Wind Industry Strategy launched today (August 1) has been welcomed by Locate in Kent as an exciting opportunity for the county to cement its position at the forefront of this fast-growing sector.
Already one of six national Centres for Offshore Renewable Engineering (COREs) – a partnership with the Government to support business growth and showcase opportunities for foreign direct investment (FDI) for the offshore wind sector – Kent’s role received international coverage last month when Prime Minister David Cameron travelled to Margate to officially open London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, 12 miles off the coast of Thanet.
Today’s report contains key announcements that indicate strong governmental support for the Offshore Wind Industry in the UK and the manufacturing base it needs in order to develop. They include:
- The Manufacturing Advisory Service to deliver the GROW: Offshore Wind service with £20 million funding from the Regional Growth Fund, to help manufacturers take advantage of the rapidly growing market;
- The creation of the Offshore Wind Investment Organisation to significantly increase levels of inward investment to the UK offshore wind supply chain;
- Financial support for the new Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult which aims to help innovative companies commercialise their products, which in turn will bring down costs for consumers.
Commenting on the strategy, Business and Energy Minister and MP for Sevenoaks, Michael Fallon said: “Step by step we are working with industry to maximise the potential of this important industry.
“We are determined to make sure that more of the contracts, jobs and economic benefit come to our shores and that we export more to overseas markets.”
Peter Symons, Director of Business Development and lead on the renewable energy sector for Locate in Kent, welcomed the report, saying: “The publication of the Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy is another important and positive step in progressing the establishment of an offshore wind industry in the UK.
“Locate in Kent continues to promote the Kent CORE and the local benefits available to any company from the industry seeking to invest in Kent and Medway.”
The Kent CORE incorporates the established Operations and Maintenance centres at Ramsgate and Whitstable, as well as 303 hectares of manufacturing capacity within Medway, which includes two deep water ports at Sheerness and London Thamesport.
At the Port of Sheerness there is a 70 hectare site that already has planning permission for an integrated turbine manufacture and assembly plant which has the potential to create up to 2,000 new jobs, and demonstrates Kent’s capability to accommodate the industry.
The Kent CORE’s key selling points are: optimum infrastructure to accommodate the industry in a strategic location ideally positioned to access development opportunities in the North Sea, English Channel and wider European markets; a strong skills, education base and supply chain; Regional Growth Fund support and the county’s excellent connectivity to Europe and the rest of the UK.
Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent, said: “Kent is well positioned to support and play a leading role in the continuing development of the offshore wind industry.
“Ramsgate played a significant role as the construction base for London Array and continues as home of the operations centre for what is a multi-national organisation that has already been the source of significant FDI for the county.
“Vattenfall also has an O&M base at Ramsgate Port to look after the Thanet Offshore wind farm and a specialist offshore wind energy recruitment agency has a presence in the town, finding work for local people, from apprentices to skilled engineers
“The potential for the county’s manufacturers to contribute to the supply chain is being strengthened by current project work to increase understanding and awareness of business capability in Kent.
“The project will provide a comprehensive new database and procurement tool for use by developers, operators and Tier 1 manufacturers.
“In addition, the new GROW funding, coupled with the existing Expansion East Kent and TIGER RGF funds can only serve to strengthen Kent’s position, and gives us a powerful offering for companies from outside the county looking to invest in the offshore wind sector.”