A £50m investment by Belfast Harbour to develop a new terminal for the assembly of offshore wind turbines is providing a major boost for the Northern Ireland construction and aggregate sectors. The project, the largest ever in the Harbour’s 400-year history, will create 150 construction jobs and generate demand for one million tonnes of stone from local quarries.
It was confirmed today that Northern Ireland-based Farrans (Construction) Ltd has won the contract to deliver the new terminal. The 50-acre facility will initially support the construction of the West of Duddon Sands offshore wind farm – a 50/50 joint venture between DONG Energy and ScottishPower Renewables. The facility will then be utilised by DONG Energy for its future Irish Sea operations.
Work on the terminal, now underway, will take 750,000 man hours to complete before it opens in 2013. The development is the first bespoke offshore wind installation and pre-assembly harbour in the UK, and is part of Belfast Harbour’s wider plans to create a renewable energy hub.
Welcoming the DETI and DRD Ministers, along with representatives from DONG Energy and ScottishPower Renewables to a site visit, Len O’Hagan, Chairman of Belfast Harbour, said:
“This is one of the most important developments in the history of Belfast Harbour, providing a platform from which to market Northern Ireland as one of the UK’s leading green hubs.
“DONG Energy and ScottishPower Renewables are world leaders in renewable energy and their decision to invest in the Harbour is a major coup. That decision was the result of a long-term investment strategy by Belfast Harbour and we are already proactively pursuing other commercial opportunities from within the green sector.
“The appointment of Farrans to develop this major marine engineering project is great news for Northern Ireland’s hard-pressed construction sector, but the potential to promote Belfast as a centre for renewable energy projects may yield even greater rewards for the wider economy.”.
Eamonn Sweeney, Farrans MD, added:
“We were delighted to have been awarded this project by Belfast Harbour with whom we have had a long-term relationship through the construction of many major marine projects in the past. The project is a much needed boost for Farrans in these difficult times and will provide employment for many within the company and in the supply chain.
“It is a massive scheme requiring in excess of 100,000 tonnes of concrete and 500,000 machine hours, and it is very satisfying to see a local company win this ahead of stiff international competition.”
The new facility, designed by Northern Ireland firm, Doran Consulting, is one element of a £1.6bn investment by DONG Energy and ScottishPower Renewables to develop an offshore wind farm known as West of Duddon Sands. Located nine miles from the Cumbrian coast at Barrow-in-Furness, the site will generate 389MW, enough to meet the energy requirements of 300,000 homes, when it becomes operational in 2014..
The £50m cost of the terminal will be funded entirely by Belfast Harbour which will, in turn, lease the facility to DONG Energy. Welcoming the start of construction work, Christian Skakkebæk, Senior Vice President and UK Country Manager for DONG Energy Renewables, said:
“The Irish Sea is an important centre of wind power in the UK and this project will provide Belfast with one of the region’s most important logistics facilities.
“The new terminal underlines our close working relationship with Belfast Harbour and our long-term commitment to offshore wind in the UK, including projects in the Irish Sea. Our presence will further support DONG Energy's position as UK’s market leader within offshore wind.”
Also attending today’s announcement in Belfast was Charles Jordan, ScottishPower Renewables’ Project Director:
“As part of the largest wind energy company in the world, Iberdrola, we know the importance of the ongoing development of the UK’s offshore wind potential.
“Offshore wind provides a major opportunity to diversify and secure energy supplies, but, as this investment demonstrates, it will also act as a major economic stimulant for other sectors such as construction.”
Over 100 turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 120m, will be shipped to Belfast before being transported using two purpose-built installation vessels. West of Duddon Sands will be one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms when it is commissioned in 2014.
The UK has plans to develop 11,000 new offshore wind turbines at a total cost of £100bn. Almost a quarter of these are expected to be built within 150 nautical miles of Belfast.