Able UK has announced that the UK Government has approved plans to create the Able Marine Energy Park, a “world-class centre for the renewable energy industries on the south bank of the Humber [River]”. The Able Marine Energy Park (AMEP) will provide 1,389 metres of new heavy duty deep water quays and 366.7 hectares (906 acres) of developable land, designed specifically for the marine renewables sector, providing space for multiple users to manufacture, store, assemble, and deploy next generation offshore wind turbines.
Able founder and Executive Chairman Peter Stephenson described the approval as “massively important for the region and the whole of the UK economy.”
The £450 million ($736 million) project satisfied a government request for more detail on how it would deal with seabirds and a railway line that is to be affected by the plant, and now has the opportunity to provide up to 4,000 high-quality jobs.
In response to the approval, RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive, Maf Smith, said that “this is a real cause for celebration … It is testament to a continuing sense of long term confidence in the offshore wind sector, which is at the very heart of our green energy future.”
The AMEP is ideally situated close to some of the planet’s largest offshore wind farms, unsurprising given that Britain has installed more offshore wind power than the rest of the world combined. According to Able, AMEP will:
- Dramatically reduce the industry’s expenditure on delivery and installation vessels
- Introduce a new, fixed, transparent charging model for operating the quays producing both stability and producibility at a huge cost saving when compared to other port operators
- Allow lower delivered costs for components by dramatically reducing the number of supply chain interventions (lifts and moves), reducing the components ‘journey’ and overall ‘industry carbon footprint’
A truly integrated cluster in the Humber will bring additional benefits and have a profound impact on wider business behaviours towards the sector:
- Cost and risk reduction – a higher propensity to finance and insure projects
- An integrated cluster will enable deeper relationships between manufacturers and key suppliers to be enhanced (a subject long since embraced by the oil and gas sector)
- Having a critical mass of activity in one geographic area will accelerate innovation and shorten ‘time to market’
- Installation rates can be accelerated due to an optimal deployment location (long quays, designed to -17m CD) in close proximity to market.
- The quays are designed to receive the largest delivery vessels so that tenants can maximise the use of delivery vessels allowing access to world market shipments and avoid the costs and time delays of inter European cargo splits.
- A cluster will allow manufacturers to have greater control over their quality assurance chain with suppliers adjacent to their own assembly plants. This expedites meetings and minimises time out of the office for senior personnel.
- The large land bank at AMEP allows investors to phase investments and stagger growth according to their needs and market share.
- The opportunity to share infrastructure negates the need for investors to purchase expensive capital equipment.
“The Humber is ideally placed in close proximity to the world’s largest proposed offshore wind farms and, coupled with the scale of the site, the inherent strengths of local people and local businesses, we have the very best package to offer the emerging offshore wind sector,” said Able’s Stephenson.
“We know from detailed discussions with all the leading companies in the offshore wind industry that AMEP is essential for the UK to become a major player— delivering the economies of scale to meet the Government’s targets in both driving down costs and ensuring that future offshore wind projects have a significant UK content. AMEP provides that opportunity to deliver a truly integrated business cluster that will be the envy of continental competitors.”
Maf Smith noted that “this announcement could be the catalyst for further investment in the region,” a thought that Stephenson expanded upon in his statements:
“The major international companies needed to know that the UK was serious in its commitment to the future of offshore wind development,” he said. “Today’s approval – coupled with the Government’s support confirmed in the recent Autumn Statement – is just the message they required and will now enable us to progress negotiations with a range of clients wanting to bring jobs and investment to the Humber.”
The offshore wind sector is quite possibly the most important renewable energy sector currently in development. Onshore wind raises any number of public opinion concerns, while solar requires space that — at the moment — is not readily or willingly available. Offshore wind, even despite its technical challenges, has the opportunity to supply a greater percentage of a country’s energy needs by virtue of the consistent winds found offshore, and with time — and investment such as the AMEP — it has a real chance to be the leading generator of renewable electricity.
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