11 May 2012
Renewable-energy sector boost
Banks Renewables has agreed a £21.9 million deal with the Co-operative Bank to fund the construction of a 20.4MW wind farm at Penny Hill, near Rotherham, that will create 30 jobs. Meanwhile, electricity group E.on has awarded a contract worth around £19 million to Balfour Beatty to provide cabling that will link its new Humber Gateway offshore wind farm to the National Grid.
E.on chief executive Tony Cocker said: “We are extremely pleased to be working with Balfour Beatty on this very important next step in the construction of our Humber Gateway wind farm. Increasing the proportion of electricity we generate from low-carbon, renewable sources is a vital part of meeting the energy challenges we all face.”
The Humber Gateway will comprise 73 turbines that can generate enough power for up to 170,000 homes; it is due to be completed by spring 2015. The announcements were made as Prime Minister David Cameron set out the Government’s vision for ‘green’ energy at a summit meeting with ministers from 23 countries.
He said: “Britain has gone from virtually no capacity for renewables, to seeing them provide almost 10% of our total electricity needs last year. In addition, we’ve added more capacity for renewables in the last two years than at any time in the last decade. Our commitment and investment in renewable energy have helped to make renewable energy possible. Now we have a different challenge; we need to make it financially sustainable.”
Mr Cameron announced the creation of a new industry partnership of more than 20 companies that will look at ways of turning the North Sea into a renewable-energy centre. David Brown Gear Systems, based in Huddersfield, is one of the companies involved in the partnership — to be known as Norstec.
Another early signatory to the initiative is JDR Cables, which employs 140 people and recently completed a £30 million investment in its Hartlepool plant. The firm, which produces cables for wind turbines, plus the oil and gas industries, is part of a cluster of North East firms helping to make the region a hub of renewable-energy activity.
It is about to complete an order for more than 200km of cables for one of the world's largest offshore wind farms (the London Array), and it was recently awarded a contract for Dong Energy’s Gunfleet Sands wind-farm project.
Other North East firms in the Norstec partnership include Darlington-based sub-sea engineering support firm Modus Seabed Intervention and Tag Energy Solutions, which has a wind-farm factory at Haverton Hill, Billingham.
Alex Dawson, Tag’s chief executive, said: “This is a critical time for the industry, and this new initiative demonstrates the collaborative attitude that exists in the industry to get the maximum benefit from the resource the North Sea offers.”