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‘Offshore wind is spinning round a 40 year story of decline’

THE impact offshore wind can have and is having on Grimsby and the wider Humber was highlighted as a global audience of stakeholders toasted the latest major completion.

‘Offshore wind is spinning round a 40 year story of decline’

Race Bank, Orsted’s 573MW array, built, operated and maintained out of the town, brought representatives from the US, Japan, Denmark, Norway and Germany to Royal Dock, as the huge investment was marked.

And David Fass, chief executive for Australian financing partner Macquarie’s Europe, Middle East and Africa interests, the holder of a 25 per cent stake in the wind farm, highlighted a benefit that had struck him on arrival.

The UK-born son of a US Air Force officer, he said: “I didn’t appreciate what has happened in Grimsby. Orsted has been pioneers in the industry and we are happy to be partners with these pioneers.

“This town was going in one direction for 40 years until this type of stuff started to arrive. We, the commercial world, are partnering with communities like this and bringing life back to places, putting them on a different path. It is something we should all feel very proud of as well.” 

Born at Mildenhall, his American accent had been picked up by his taxi driver, with the tale of fishing grounds surrender as part of Nato negotiations over Russia defences with Iceland being told to him as he headed to the East Coast Hub.

Adopting his speech to incorporate it, and reflecting on the view of the £10 million investment beside the Dock Tower where 250 people now work, and a further 250 will follow, he said: “This is a fantastic place to be a long term investor. We are proud to be here today to cut the ribbon on a fantastic project.” 

Matthew Wright, UK managing director for Orsted, highlighted the series of firsts – a first inauguration under the Orsted name since the switch from Dong, a first use of the next generation vessel and a record installation time, before praising the town team.

He said: “This region, the Energy Estuary, is really living up to its name. We have integrated the supply chain, we have blades from Hull installed on a South Bank project, and I think it is fantastic. It is something we hope we can continue to grow and drive here.”

Describing it as an example of “fresh thinking and innovation in our sector,” Mr Wright said: “Race Bank is not just another offshore wind farm. It is building on the success story of offshore wind in the UK.

“It is the third we operate from the docks in Grimsby, with two more already in progress – Hornsea One being built as we speak and Hornsea Two which has gone through its final investment decision and will commence construction in the next year or two. I think it is appropriate that we are also building the world’s largest operations and maintenance base here to satisfy these five projects. We are extending our operations and maintenance hub, another £10 million of investment, and the great thing is we are providing more jobs. We are continuing to grow the Energy Estuary’s reputation and cluster that exists in this area. We are also building a presence in the local community, something we believe in very strongly as a business. We are investing to build our local talent pool, our local skills base.”

Turning to representatives of the 50-strong construction co-ordination team, pictured above, that were based in Port of Grimsby East, Mr Wright said: “The development team has delivered the new benchmark for industry in terms of speed, efficiency and safety, and that’s the most important thing.

“The spirit of collaboration and innovation has been exemplary from day one. 

“They have built a wonderful asset, something that will operate for 25 years and a fantastic foundation for our business to continue to deliver growth.

“They have built another step on the journey to a world that runs entirely on green energy.”

Leading that team was Jason Ledden, who moved from Westermost Rough and is now heading up Hornsea Project Two.

He said: “Having been involved in the project for three-and-a-half years, you get to the date of the inauguration and it is great. “We have had lots of milestones but it really brings home what you have done, the scale of the project and what has been achieved – a wind farm now producing green energy for half a million homes.

“We had the quickest single installed turbine and the timescale of the project, we had a programme to work to and we beat that by some.. We saved time, we learned lessons as we went, implemented them and saved money too. 

“It is an exceptional team, the best team to work with, everyone was focused, and we work for a good company that focuses on what we need to deliver. As a project it has been a pleasure to work in.” 

As well as investor partners and civic officials, industry representatives were also at the event.

Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, was back on his South Bank home patch for the inauguration. He said: "It is great to be at the opening of Race Bank. It shows the industry is continuing to push forward and it is great to see a wind farm built in the Humber, out of Grimsby, with blades from Hull. It is the first in the UK, but the first of many.

"We need to realise that we are seeing continued innovation, continued development, reducing cost of wind further and that gives us great confidence for the future."

Next week sees his organisation's Global Offshore Wind 2018 event take place in Manchester, with Orsted sponsoring a skills hub. Students can attend for free to explore the industry.

"We are seeing the way the offshore wind industry is bringing investment to Grimsby and the Humber area, these are long term commitments, and if people want to find out more about careers in offshore wind then the skills hub at Global Offshore Wind is their chance."

Also there will be Mark O'Reilly, chairman and chief executive of Team Humber Marine Alliance. He said: "These milestones seem to be coming thick and fast now, but still they amaze me.

"We are here on a site, where there was nothing. Now there is a headquarters, the SOV, it is the dream coming true almost - now and again we have to pinch ourselves. I think the supply chain is starting to pick up, there are opportunities and I know there have been frustrations, but today I have seen familiar faces popping up having won work, which is what we want."

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