Yard starts giant wind turbines assembly
Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard has started work on assembling 30 massive wind turbines that will operate off the English coast.
Each turbine will rise 160 metres above the Irish Sea and carry a rotor with a 126 metre diameter and a surface-area the size of a football pitch.
European energy company Vattenfall said it had delivered the first of nine consignments of turbines and towers for the wind farm to be based 10 kilometres off Barrow-in-Furness.
Vattenfall's David Hodkinson said: "We are delighted that Vattenfall's Ormonde offshore wind project is supporting employment at Harland and Wolff's facility in Belfast and we are looking to working with them to deliver this part of the project safely and cost effectively.
"The delivery of the towers and turbines is not only an important development for our project, but also underlines Vattenfall's commitment to work with suppliers to strengthen the UK supply chain for the offshore wind sector, which will underpin the delivery of the planned large scale expansion of offshore wind around the UK coast."
He said the construction programme was on schedule, with the first power to be generated in the early summer.
Harland and Wolff's Chief Executive Officer Robert Cooper welcomed the beginning of the project.
"This is our third offshore wind farm logistics project in four years and the largest turbines we have handled to date," he said.
"Vattenfall are a demanding customer who requires the best, our vast facilities and experienced personnel are again demonstrating their unique flexibility and capability.
"When this project is considered alongside the current manufacture of two large offshore platforms in our fabrication halls, renewable energy is securing hundreds of local jobs within H&W and within the local supply chain."
Minister of State for Energy Charles Hendry said the Irish Sea provided a valuable energy source.
"Using these natural resources not only helps our energy security and climate ambitions, but can boost jobs and manufacturing too," he said.
"We are determined to see more of the supply chain investment coming to our ports and it is welcome news that Vattenfall has chosen to harness the Harland and Wolff facilities and skills for the Ormonde project."