Energy and business minister Michael Fallon opened the 504MW capacity Greater Gabbard wind farm 14 miles off the coast of Suffolk yesterday.
The £1.3bn wind farm has the capacity to generate enough clean energy to power 500,000 homes with the site creating hundreds of jobs and a £150,000 fund to support local initiatives managed by the Suffolk Community Foundation.
The 140-turbine project will double in size when the Galloper wind farm extension opens in 2017.
Fallon said: “The UK leads the world in offshore wind power generation with more capacity than the rest of the world combined, and we want to see this sector grow even further.”
He added: “This sector is an engine of our economy. By the end of this decade, tens of thousands of additional jobs could be created in the supply chain for offshore wind throughout the UK.”
Speaking to BusinessGreen.com the energy and business minister confirmed that the Government’s new Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy would require wind farm developers to produce “supply chain plans” that detail proposed use of local content and support of local jobs.
The new wind farm further cements the UK’s position as the world’s largest offshore wind market with further funding in prospect.
The Government’s investment plans include £20 million from the Regional Growth Fund to improve the UK wind industry’s supply chain, and £46 million to join up innovation between industry, Government and academia to help companies bring new products to market.
The opening of the project was marred by the finding that just £500m of the total building cost was spent with British companies.
The Times reported over two-thirds of the amount spent on the £1.6bn project (in contrast to Government estimates) was spent overseas.
Roger Salomone, energy adviser to EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, criticised the lack of reinvestment in the UK.
“The Government and industry have woken up to this issue so late,” he said. “The reality is that, if a lot of subsidy is being allocated to these projects, we need to get more value out of them in terms of jobs and investment. Greater Gabbard shows how much ground we have to make up.”