UK Government

Department of Energy and Climate Change: UK signs up to Europe’s first offshore wind grid

Press Release   •   Dec 08, 2009 11:05 GMT

- Energy Minister signs agreement with 8 other countries to develop offshore wind grid
- £5 million new grants awarded for offshore wind technology research
- Renewable Energy Expert Chair appointed by government

Nine countries including the UK signed up to develop an integrated offshore grid in the North and Irish Seas today. In the margins of the Energy Council meeting in Brussels, Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Hunt signed the agreement along with ministers from Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland.

The idea of a grid spanning European waters should make supplies of electricity more secure for the participating countries by making it easier to optimise offshore wind electricity production . It will also help the EU as a whole to meet its renewable energy target for 2020.

Lord Hunt said:

"Talks begin today  in Copenhagen on how we can cut carbon emissions worldwide. A large part of that will be continuing the domestic decarbonisation of our energy supplies by moving to low carbon sources including wind.

"We’re already the world leader in offshore wind here in the UK and today’s announcements bring new funding and expert direction to grow this vital new industry  They also mean we can work with other countries in the EU to increase our renewable energy supplies."

Lord Hunt also announced the next round of Low Carbon Energy demonstration capital grants for Vestas, Clipper and Mitsubishi, and also the appointment of Professor Bernard Bulkin as the expert chair of DECC’s Office for Renewable Energy Deployment (ORED).

Vestas will receive £1.75 million from the Government and a further £1.75 Million from the South East England Development Agency, in addition to £6 million already awarded. Vestas have announced today that with the award of their grant they will be going ahead with their R & D facility on the Isle of Wight. Vestas currently employ 160 on the Isle of Wight. By the time they open the technology centre in 2011 they expect this to grow to over 200 and then to nearly 400 over the following years.

Rob Sauven, Managing Director, Vestas Technology R&D said:

"With this investment Vestas has chosen the UK as its location to build a strategically vital part of it global technology capability. We will be able to build and test the largest blades in the world including those related to our recent offshore product announcements."

Pam Alexander, SEEDA Chief Executive, said:

“This award is good news for the UK’s position in the offshore wind market and also for the Isle of Wight’s workforce and economy.  Vestas is a key employer offering high value jobs and we are keen to retain them at the heart of the Isle of Wight’s centre of excellence in advance composite materials.  The R&D centre will shortly be leading the development of new off shore wind technologies for the rest of the world.”

On his appointment as expert Chair to ORED Professor Bulkin said:

"We need to move to low carbon energy supplies in order to combat climate change and achieving our renewables targets for 2020 are a key part of that.
“This will be a challenging and important role. I am looking forward to getting started at DECC.”

Notes to editors

1. Ministers from UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland signed a Political Declaration in Brussels on 7 December launching an initiative to cooperate on the development of offshore wind infrastructure in the North Sea and Irish Seas.  The initiative is called “The North Seas Countries’ Offshore Grid Initiative”.   The Declaration highlights the role offshore wind energy can play in meeting the EU’s 20-20-20 targets and the benefits an integrated offshore gird can bring in terms of security of supply and market integration.  It notes that the complexity of the initiative calls for improved multilateral collaboration and recognises that this requires a common vision supported by Ministers.  The intention is to prepare at working level a strategic work plan in early 2010 with the aim of coordinating offshore infrastructure development.  This would be enshrined in a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed later in 2010.

2. Professor Bulkin has broad experience in business and government clean energy roles.  He is a Professorial Fellow at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, and was the Chief Scientist at BP. He is a partner with leading clean technology venture capital firm Vantage Point.

3. The post is a part-time post as non-executive expert Chair of the new Office for Renewable Energy Deployment (ORED)within the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).  The post was created as part of  the Government’s Renewable Energy Strategy (RES) to drive delivery of a seven-fold increase in the use of renewable energy by 2020.

4. This is a key post in the delivery of the UK’s renewables targets, combining expert and representational roles. The non-executive expert Chair will be  working with industry stakeholders and investors in the UK renewable energy sector.  Professor Bulkin will carry out representational activity domestically (and occasionally overseas as necessary). He will be responsible for providing strategic and expert guidance and positive challenge to Ministers, management board and officials on ORED’s objectives. This will involve regular progress review meetings and ad-hoc strategic advice to ministers on specific issues .  He will also sit as a non-executive member of Renewables Advisory Board (RAB), the Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) which advises the SoS on meeting the UK’s renewable energy target.

5. The grants are awarded under phase 2 of the Low Carbon Energy Demonstration (LCED) capital grants scheme. The level of the grants were
- Clipper Windpower Marine Limited: £ 2.5m  
- Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe Ltd: £0. 81m
- Vestas Technology UK  Limited: £ 1.75m (who also received £1.75m match funding from SEEDA)

6. The second £10 million call under the Low Carbon Energy demonstration capital grants scheme was launched on 27 July 2009, following high demand for the first call which had been launched on 28 May 2009.  It was designed to address a critical barrier facing the deployment of renewable offshore wind in the UK,, namely the growth in demand for renewables generation beyond the capacity of the supply chain to deliver.  It is specifically aimed at bringing forward the demonstration of new components or technology to support the earlier deployment of large-scale multi-MW wind turbines to enable their deployment within 2020 timescales.  It also aims to provide a learning experience which can improve confidence and help reduce future costs; and underpin development of the industry by stimulating the UK supply chain. The funding is partly from the joint DECC/BIS Strategic Investment Fund and partly from DECC’s Environmental Transformation Fund.

7. SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency, is the Government-funded agency responsible for the sustainable economic development of the South East of England – the driving force of the UK’s economy. Through supporting businesses, encouraging innovation, developing skills and engaging with public and private partners, we aim to create a successful, sustainable future for the region. For SEEDA media enquiries, please contact: Jessica Stewart (Media Relations Manager): 01483 501307

8. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is central to the UK Government’s leadership on climate change.  We are pushing hard for an ambitious global deal in Copenhagen in December to avert the most dangerous impacts.  Through our UK Low Carbon Transition Plan we are giving householders and businesses the incentives and advice they need to cut their emissions, we are enabling the energy sector’s shift to the trinity of renewables, new nuclear and clean coal, and we are stepping up the fight against fuel poverty.


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