The new Port of Tyne base for the world’s biggest offshore wind farm can be the catalyst for “significant tangible opportunities” for the region and help ensure a “green and resilient economic recovery” according to business leaders.

Equinor and SSE Renewables, the two companies behind the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm, announced plans to build a new Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Base at the port last week  (13 May 2020).

The flagship project is expected to generate more than 200 direct jobs in the region, as well as opportunities for companies at all levels of the supply chain.

George Rafferty, chief executive of NOF, the business development organisation for the energy sector, said: “The creation of a new Operations and Maintenance base for Dogger Bank Wind Farm at Port of Tyne will be the catalyst for significant tangible opportunities for North East England’s offshore wind supply chain.

“The region’s established cluster of companies is well-placed to support the development of this major wind farm project with skills, innovation and technology-led solutions, which will also encourage further investment and job creation.”

James Ritchie, chairman of Energi Coast, North East England’s offshore wind cluster, said the announcement “reaffirms the region’s central role in the future of the offshore wind industry.

“We work closely with Equinor and SSE Renewables as developer members of the Energi Coast cluster and their decision is a further vote of confidence in North East England’s infrastructure, experience and expertise,” he said. “It also gives them direct access to a very innovative and readily available supply chain, which is well-established in the sector.

“Port of Tyne has also been instrumental in the development of facilities and capabilities to support the lifecycle of offshore wind developments and this agreement is a major endorsement of its strategy.”

Secretary of state for business Alok Sharma hailed the project as “fantastic news for Tyneside and the North East of England”.

“Renewable energy is one of the UK’s great success stories, providing over a third of our electricity and thousands of jobs,” he said. “Projects like Dogger Bank will be a key part of ensuring a green and resilient economic recovery as well as reaching our target of net zero emissions by 2050.”

Paul Cooley, SSE Renewables director of capital projects, said the facility would cement the partners’ commitment to “developing long term jobs and economic benefit in the UK”.

The Operations and Maintenance base will bring significant socio-economic benefits to the local area during construction and throughout the projects lifetime, as we have seen on our previous offshore wind projects including Beatrice,” he said.

“Dogger Bank will help drive the transition to a net zero future and we are continuing our work to construct the largest offshore wind farm in the world safely.”

RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Melanie Onn added: “This is a great example of how our member companies in the offshore wind sector are investing billions of pounds in developing vital new energy infrastructure all around the UK. Offshore wind is creating new opportunities and employment in port towns and coastal communities throughout the country.

“As we look to the future, renewables offer us a way to rebuild our economy after the coronavirus pandemic, not just by developing projects here but by exporting our valuable expertise around the world. We can consolidate our global lead in offshore wind and in developing innovative technologies like floating wind, marine power and renewable hydrogen, as well as restarting the development of new onshore wind projects.”

Originally published in InsiderMedia.