Ports gear up to provide production facilitiesTaken from: Offshore Wind Journal June 2012
Amongst a series of announcements about new turbine manufacturing facilities in the UK, perhaps one of the most significant was that Hull City Council’s Planning Committee has given its consent to the proposed ‘Green Port Hull’ facility following the submission of plans by Associated British Ports (ABP) and Siemens plc.
Negotiations to secure and sign a commercial agreement between the two companies continue, with a deal expected to be finalised later in the year. The planning approval will further help seal Siemens’ commitment to build a new turbine manufacturing facility in Hull.
There are a number of conditions on the application that were not unexpected and the Siemens-ABP team is already working through them to secure an unconditional approval as soon as possible. The plans also need to be approved by the UK Secretary of State, a process which was expected to take until early June 2012.
Joint applications were made for the demolition of existing buildings at Alexandra Dock and the development of a factory, office and amenity facilities and a helicopter landing site, as well as areas for the storage, handling, assembly, and testing of wind turbine components.
Matt Jukes, ABP port director Hull & Goole, described the decision to approve the development of Green Port Hull as “a very big step towards delivering this game-changing project for the port, the city and our region”.
Dan McGrail, Siemens’ project manager, said he was “delighted” that the plans have been approved and that Siemens would continue to work with ABP to agree the commercial terms for the site and look forward to driving the remainder of the outstanding actions and continue to make good progress in the delivery timeline.
The project is expected to create 700 jobs and be completed in 2014. The outline approval is for a factory of 134,500-279,760ft2 and a range of ancillary buildings, a helicopter landing site, as well as areas for the storage, handling, assembly, and testing of wind turbine components.
Siemens is investing £80 million in the Alexandra Dock site with ABP channelling £130 million into the port infrastructure.
Green Port Hull is one of the three named areas that comprise the Humber Estuary Enterprise Zone. The zone is located within the Humber Estuary Renewable Energy Super Cluster and provides financial incentives to manufacturing companies in the renewable energy sector, with a view to creating further economic benefit and innovation in the associated supply chain.
ABP also submitted a number of separate applications, in part to enable the new quay to be used for the handling of wind turbines and associated traffic. These were also recommended for conditional approval.
Green Port Hull will involve the regeneration of Alexandra Dock, an existing port complex that is directly adjacent to a natural deepwater channel. It is ideally positioned for the receipt of cargo, component manufacture, and the dispatch of the turbines for installation offshore. ABP said the existing portside facility will ensure limited disruption, risk or cost often associated with onshore transportation. Turbine blades and towers will arrive by ship into Alexandra dock or King George Dock.
Earlier this year, Gamesa announced that, subject to market developments, it intends to make an investment over time of approximately €150 million in facilities at the Port of Leith. Subject to agreement, this would form an important part of Gamesa’s long-term strategic relationship with the UK and a commitment to establishing the UK as the centre of Gamesa’s global offshore wind operations.
Depending on market developments, the new manufacturing base could eventually create about 800 new jobs. The company’s decision to pursue discussions with the Port of Leith follows a detailed process to identify a partner port which would meet the company’s manufacturing and operational requirements whilst providing the optimum commercial solution.
Successful completion of negotiations would mark a further stage in Gamesa’s engagement in the UK. In 2011, the company established a new R&D facility in Strathclyde, currently employing over 60 engineers, which is steadily growing and is expected to employ 180 people. The company is in the process of moving its global offshore wind headquarters to its new London offices with an expected head-count of 70 staff.
Gamesa’s chairman and CEO, Jorge Calvet, said: “If market conditions are favourable, this would mean many high-quality jobs for the area. We hope to play a central role in strengthening the UK’s offshore wind energy sector and improving security of energy supply in the future. In achieving this we would also minimise any environmental impact whilst continuing to invest in and build relationships with the local communities with which we shall be working. Selection of Leith as our preferred partner for the MOU aimed at establishing a UK manufacturing base is only a first stage, but an important one.”
Earlier this year, a planning application was submitted for the development of a wind turbine manufacturing facility at Port of Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. The application was made by Port of Sheerness Ltd following months of research and preparation including an extensive programme of consultation.
The fully integrated manufacturing facility is being proposed by Vestas Wind Systems. Once completed, it would be one of the largest manufacturing facilities of its type in Europe and would include nacelle assembly and blade manufacturing for Vestas’ new V164-7.0 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine. The turbines would be supplied to the UK-designated zones for offshore wind power, together with other emerging northern European offshore markets. It is anticipated that the facility, when fully operational, could create around 2000 new jobs, direct and indirect, in the local and wider area.
Vestas first announced its plans for the facility in May 2011, when it signed an option agreement with Port of Sheerness. Lars Eriksen, chief project manager for Vestas said: “The planning application is a significant milestone which brings us a step closer towards making this project a reality. Subject to planning consent and a satisfactory order pipeline for the V164-7.0 MW turbine, our aim will be to move into the construction phase as quickly as possible, so as to be in a position to begin operations in 2015.”
Paul Kavanagh, managing director of Peel Ports Medway said the planning application “makes good use of the considerable land and assets we have available at Sheerness, enabling us to meet the requirements of most of our existing customers as well as to accommodate Vestas’ manufacturing facility”.
The land required for the proposed development includes quaysides, berths and other facilities within the main port, together with an extensive area of previously reclaimed land to the south, known as Lappel Bank. The ‘hybrid’ planning application for the manufacturing facility comprises outline planning permission for the new buildings and associated storage areas and full planning permission for the ‘enabling works’ to the docks, quays and the access road.
The main elements include: strengthening and infilling of existing quays and dredging; creation of a new inset berth, a new finger quay and travelling crane jetty; construction of a blade production building and associated loading and parking areas; construction of a nacelle assembly and ‘offshore’ buildings, together with loading and parking areas; ancillary buildings, including one or more service centres; construction of a tower erection area with associated cranes/rigs; establishment (and strengthening) of designated areas for the storage and internal transport of completed towers, blades and nacelles prior to shipment; relocation of the existing car terminal and berth further down the Lappel Bank; alteration and upgrade of incoming services including construction of external electricity sub-stations; and provision of a new service road and alterations to the port entrance.