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Engineers warn ports must invest more to support the offshore wind industry

UK ports must start investing in facilities to support the off shore wind industry, leading wind engineers said this week.

More capacity will be needed to handle the demands of larger wind farms which are to be built further out to sea than more recent projects. “We need three major super ports on the east coast,” said renewable energy consultant BVG Associates associate director Julian Brown.

“The sites exist but all require investment. Courage and confidence feeds both of those.”

The UK Ports for the Offshore Wind Industry: Time to Act report, published in February, highlighted gaps in UK port capacity, which needs to radically increase to meet demand from Round 2 and Round 3 projects.

Starting to adapt

Brown said that there were signs that port owners were starting to adapt to the industry’s needs.

“Port operators that were dismissive a year ago are now looking to see how they can meet the needs of the industry,” said Brown.

But he warned that more needed to be done and that Round 3, which involves the construction of bigger turbines and is around 300km offshore, will be more demanding.

“UK ports will be competing with European ports. Competitive UK ports will attract wind turbine manufacturers and create jobs.”

Julian Brown, BVG

“Turbines are getting bigger with a benchmark of 5MW, towers are 6m in diameter, blades are up to 75m long. If you disassemble a turbine and put it down, it takes up around 0.4ha of space. Also at the greater water depth, the jack-up barges are bigger and the vessels are bigger.”

“Private UK ports will be competing with European ports that are generally publicly owned and have experience of dealing with wind industry demands. Competitive UK ports will attract wind turbine manufacturers and create jobs,” said Brown.

“Ports will bring in manufacturing jobs,” he said. “If you build the quay, you attract manufacturers to build the blades behind.”

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