Belfast Telegraph

UK energy suppliers size up province's renewables sector

By Clare Weir

Ten English energy sector suppliers are to visit Northern Ireland next week to explore the growing renewables industry here.

NOF Energy, the UK business support organisation for oil, gas, nuclear and offshore renewables sectors, is leading the visit in conjunction with Invest NI to help build relationships between Irish and English companies.

Northern Ireland has an established supply chain of companies serving its domestic offshore wind market, which has the potential to grow further internationally through relationships with other companies from other parts of the UK.

The visit will include a tour of the historic Harland -amp; Wolff shipyard, which is set to become the operational hub for offshore wind projects in the country and the construction of four wind farms, and a comprehensive briefing on the Irish market including the £40m DONG offshore wind terminal investment in Belfast Harbour.

The Harbour is set to fund and build a new 450-metre quay and 50-acre building space, roughly twice the size of Belfast's Botanic Gardens, on the Co Down side of the Harbour.

The massive project is expected to create up to 300 full-time jobs on completion and 150 construction posts during building.

Over the next 20 years it is expected 11,000 new offshore wind turbines will be built in UK and Irish waters at a cost of around £100bn, with almost a quarter of the planned structures located within 150 nautical miles.

Delegates will also have the opportunity to network with local companies at evening events and lunches as well as taking part in an event where they can make short presentations about their companies' products and services to businesses in the Irish market.

Joanne Leng MBE, director of business development at NOF Energy, said that Northern Ireland has embraced the offshore renewables industry and is creating a strong infrastructure to service the sector.

"There are strong synergies between the Irish and English markets, particularly the north east of England, which is establishing a supply chain, which can support developments in Ireland as well as in its domestic waters," she said.

"Irish companies will also benefit from building relationships with the NOF Energy membership as we are seeing an increasing internationalisation of the markets served by our members. This market visit is the perfect opportunity to take the first step towards new partnerships that have the potential to lead to new business."

The visit will take place from August 8-10.