AS North East England's offshore renewables supply chain quickly matures, it is looking beyond UK waters to secure new contracts.
The skills, products and competencies that are being established in the region are now being acknowledged by international offshore wind farm developers, who are now engaging with companies from North East England to add value to their supply chain operations.
Alongside the growth of the UK offshore wind sector, which includes the upcoming Round 3 wind farm developments, European markets are also expanding, which are creating opportunities for North East companies.
In particular, the German and Baltic Sea sectors are beginning to bear fruit for North East supply chain companies. Among them, Darlington-based CTC Marine Projects has recently secured a multi-million pound contract for the Dolwin1 project North of Germany.
The company, which is part of the DeepOcean Group, will create a subsea trench for 62 kilometres of power cables in 14 metres of water from the Dolwin Alpha West Platform to Borkum West II Platform.
Neighbouring company Tekmar Energy, which is located in Newton Aycliffe, is also benefiting from the utilisation of UK skills and products for the international offshore wind sector.
The company, which develops and manufactures protection systems for subsea cables used to link offshore wind turbines to on-land power networks, has landed three European projects in Germany and Belgium.
Germany is also a target for TAG Energy Solutions, which recently secured a vital accreditation that enables it to tender for work in the country. The offshore wind turbine foundation manufacturer, which opened its brand-new automated production facility in Billingham on Teesside late last year, has achieved the certification as part of its export programme to target developments outside of the UK including those in the German North Sea and Baltic regions.
These markets do present considerable opportunities for the North East companies and NOF Energy and Energi Coast, North East England’s Renewables Group, are keen to support businesses looking to provide products and services to these countries.
In June Energi Coast will be leading a group of North East companies on a visit to Germany, which will include a number of visits to important German-based offshore wind operations and the Windforce 2012 exhibition and conference in Bremen.
In addition to visiting Areva Wind in Bremerhaven and taking a tour of Falck Nutec’s facility, we are aiming to secure appointments with important members of the German sector including Mitsubishi, Hocktieff, repower and Vattenfall.
Windforce 2012 will also provide a valuable networking opportunity. As one of Germany’s premier offshore wind events, it will offer the chance to meet some of the key players in the country’s sector.
The UK, and North East England in particular, has a lot to offer these markets.
The formation of a robust and integrated supply chain in North East England for the UK and international for the offshore renewables sector is really gaining pace.
As well as the 23 companies that are part of Energi Coast, there are a growing number of companies establishing and growing operations in the region to service the domestic and international offshore renewables sector.
The fantastic news that OGN has received a £640,000 government grant to build foundations at its facility in Wallsend creating more than 1,000 new jobs and Technip Offshore Wind’s announcement that it is to open a new base on Tyneside bringing 60 new jobs to the region further demonstrates the increasing prominence North East England is taking in the offshore wind supply chain.
Further evidence of the North East’s commitment to offshore renewables can be found at Northumberland-based Osbit Power to develop a system to help people work more easily on offshore turbines as well as at Blyth’s New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC), which announced plans for a £300m research and development programme for large turbines to be built in Northumberland.
The strength of the North East supply chain has also been recognised by The Crown Estate, the body which owns the seabed around the UK coastline where wind farms will be located. In conjunction with NOF Energy and Energi Coast, The Crown Estate is holding a special networking event at Newcastle United’s stadium on May 17, sponsored by Technip Offshore Wind and OGN Group, which will encourage supply chain companies considering opportunities in the offshore renewables market to engage with the industry.
Key speakers from AREVA Wind, EDF Energy Renewables, Technip Offshore Wind, OGN Group and Siemens Energy alongside representatives from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will deliver business and market updates and network with attendees.
All of these developments highlight a bright and active future for the region’s offshore renewables supply chain. In the UK and around the world, North East England has a considerable role to play in the growing offshore renewables industry.
:: Joanne Leng is director of Business Development at NOF Energy and Deputy Chair of Energi Coast.