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EWEA's Opinion, News

Europe’s offshore wind power industry keeps getting positive feedback

01.04.2010

The expanding European offshore wind sector is once again the recipient of exciting news, this time in the form of planned market investments and new government policies designed to help the marine-based industry prosper, create thousands of well-paying jobs and harnessing increasing amounts of green electricity.

On Monday, Siemens Energy announced it anticipates investments in the “high double-digit million range” for a new production plant it intends to build in Britain for offshore wind turbines in order to meet growing demand for the developing sector.

In making its announcement, the company also said the new plant would create more than 700 new jobs.

“With the new wind turbine production plant in the UK we’re pushing ahead with our strategy of investments in attractive growth markets for ecofriendly technology,” Peter Löscher, President and CEO of Siemens AG, said in a press release.

“In the foreseeable future the wind power market in the UK will be characterized by major offshore projects, and we’ll extend our market leadership with the new production plant.”

The company said it was confident that the British offshore wind sector will grow significantly in the future and it is reviewing possible sites for the production plant on Britain’s east coast and in the northeast, with a special focus on harbour infrastructure.  

The announcement follows news from GE a week earlier that it plans a major offshore wind expansion with a €340 million investment in manufacturing, engineering and service facilities in Britain, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

“Offshore wind will play a vital role in meeting the growing global demand for cleaner, renewable energy and has a bright future here in Europe,” Ferdinando (Nani) Beccalli-Falco, president and CEO of GE International, said in a press release.

“These investments will position us to help develop Europe’s vast, untapped offshore wind resources, while also creating new jobs for both GE and our suppliers.”

Just one month ago another company, Mitsubishi, unveiled plans to spend more than €100 million on building a new wind turbine factory in the north-east of England. Reacting to the news, Joss Garman, energy campaigner for Greenpeace UK said: “if the market wanted a clear signal on which way the UK energy sector is moving, the manufacturer of the world’s biggest nuclear reactors has just sent it – and the answer is wind.”

Other recent news supporting the expansion of offshore wind power came from the UK budget which earmarked more than €65 to improve port facilities in areas that will service the growing offshore sector. The budget also said a new Green Investment Bank would be established to control €2.25 billion worth of equity with a focus on investments in green transport and sustainable energy, especially offshore wind power.

While the UK alongside Denmark are the current leaders in offshore wind, with a a 44% and 30% share respectively, of the 52 offshore wind farms which have won consent in European waters, more than half are planned in Germany.

Both offshore and onshore wind got a different sort of boost when EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said Europe requires massive upgrades and extensions to its grid systems in order for the region to efficiently integrate large-scale wind energy with both the electricity networks and the markets while meeting its policy objectives for 2020.

The positive news about the European offshore wind industry in the past two weeks will help keep the emissions-free sector at the top of the public agenda as politicians, energy companies, business interests and environmentalists continue developing a healthy new green economy.

By Chris Rose, EWEA




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