More offshore wind farms are expected to be built in the seas off Barrow, and will hopefully create more mechanical engineering jobs for the area. The government is expected to announce new wind farms in the Irish Sea in its Round 3 seabed licensing procedure. Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish or Scottish firms could be among those given licenses to site new wind farms 12 miles out in a huge swathe of Irish Sea stretching from Cumbria to North Wales. The government’s Crown Estates Department will announce the winners tomorrow.
In a separate development a new report into the county’s energy potential commissioned by Cumbria Vision estimated offshore wind could by 2020 create up to 720 jobs in the county.
The Barrow seascape has 30 turbines in the Barrow Offshore Windfarm (BOW) built in 2006 and owned by Danish Oil and Natural Gas (Dong) and British Gas owner Centrica. Work on 102 giant turbines slightly further out for Dong from the Round 2 wind farm licensing round, is due to start in March. Another 30 wind turbines will be built later this year in the Ormonde field off Walney for Swedish energy firm Vattenfall. A total of 272 new turbines for the seas off Barrow already have the go-ahead making 300 turbines with the existing working wind farm from licensing rounds 1 and 2.
A party of firms who were bidding for the Irish Sea zone in Round 3 visited Barrow last February and met 16 local companies which could supply services and engineering. The group only visited Manchester and Barrow in the whole North West, said Stuart Klosinski, industrial development manager of the Furness Enterprise agency which hosted the visit. Mr Klosinski said: “They were interested in the port facilities and the local supply chain.”
The Round 3 process identified nine zones for offshore wind development around the UK. One company or consortium will develop each zone, which may contain several wind farms. Duncan Ayling, head of offshore at the British Wind Energy Association, said: “Round 3 is set to provide the lion’s share of the offshore sites with around 25 Gigawatts of potential wind farms to be developed. It is worth remembering that the UK’s total generating capacity at the moment is 78GW, and that 40GW of offshore wind alone could satisfy a full third of UK’s total electricity consumption.”
These new wind farms are expected to create more mechanical engineering jobs, and even some design engineering jobs in the early stages of planning and development. In addition to this, each new wind farm should create between 20 and 40 new operating and maintenance jobs as well as boosting port activity and creating opportunities for supply firms.
We accredit the North West Evening Mail for the inspiration for this article.