Belfast Harbour wind terminal brings huge rewards
Harbour assembly port boosting investment, says power firm boss
The wind terminal assembly port at Belfast Harbour has created a fantastic opportunity for further inward investment, according to the head of one of the companies making turbines in the city.
Keith Anderson, chief corporate Officer of ScottishPower, was speaking as the firm's parent company Iberdrola reported first half earnings of €4.1bn (£3.5bn).
In Belfast, ScottishPower and Danish energy giant DONG energy currently sublet a a 50-acre terminal, the largest single investment in Belfast Harbour's 400-year history and the first purpose-built offshore wind installation and pre-assembly harbour in the UK or Ireland,.
Built by local construction company Farrans, the project took 15 months, 750,000 man hours, one million tonnes of stones and 30,000 tonnes of concrete to complete.
The facility, large enough to accommodate 30 football pitches, includes a 480m deep-water quayside. Up to three vessels are able to berth simultaneously, with access available around the clock.
More than 100 turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 120m, will be shipped from the new terminal to the West of Duddon Sands project, which will be one of the world's largest offshore wind farms when it is commissioned in 2014.
Work on the wind farm has started and the first turbines are already departing Belfast this summer for erection at the site.
Mr Anderson said the knock-on effects of the new port were huge.
"I think the good positive thing about Belfast is that it is home to the first purpose-built construction port for wind power in the whole of the UK," he said.
"What that should do is encourage other investors to come into that area. What you have is the centre of a hub, and we hope to see lots of manufacturers moving into that area. Why wouldn't foundation experts and turbine assembly firms look to move into that area, it's created a fantastic opportunity?
"Belfast came to fore in terms of being able to make available the space.
"The way that this development and Belfast Harbour were able to bring together companies, associations and government bodies so quickly was a fantastic story and shows how much infrastructure investment can be secured on the back of offshore wind and shows what positive benefits offshore winds can bring.
"We're now seeing full-blown construction and massive deliveries into and out of Belfast and there is a big knock-on effect from that big inward investment, which has led to hundreds of direct jobs, subcontracting jobs, boosts to local restaurants, the quarry trade – the development has had a big economic impact, it has been very positive for us and we, like many others, are further investing in renewables and the potential for further development is huge."