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U.K. Wind Energy Jobs Surge 91 Percent, Study Says

U.K. Wind Energy Employment Surges 91 Percent, Lobby Group
The U .K . is banking on wind energy to help meet its European Union target of deriving 15 percent of energy for electricity, heat and transportation from renewables by 2020. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Employment in the U.K. wind power industry has surged 91 percent in three years, the RenewableUK lobby group said today.

The number of people employed full-time in the large-scale onshore and offshore wind energy industry rose to about 9,200 in 2010 from 4,800 in 2007, RenewableUK said today in an e-mailed report. Belfast Harbour plans to create 300 full-time jobs in a 40-million pound ($65-million) project to build a new quay for use by Dong Energy A/S to assemble turbines and foundations, the port and wind farm operator said today in a separate statement.

The U.K. is banking on wind energy to help meet its European Union target of deriving 15 percent of energy for electricity, heat and transportation from renewables by 2020. Zamudio, Spain-based Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica said on Jan. 20 that it plans to open an offshore wind technology facility in Glasgow, and Siemens AG the same day said it will open a new factory in Hull.

“The growth in these technologies as well as small wind systems and marine is set not just to continue but accelerate, further driving employment,” RenewableUK Chief Executive Officer Maria McCaffery said in the report.

Including wave and tidal power, and small-scale wind turbines, the U.K. now has about 10,800 people working full time in wind and marine energy industries, the group said. It didn’t have comparable figures for 2007.

Belfast Project

Dong, Denmark’s largest energy company, and Belfast Harbour said today in their statement that they signed a letter of intent for the port in Northern Ireland to build a new 450-meter (1,476-feet) dock.

As well as 300 permanent posts, the project will create 150 construction jobs, according to the statement. If a final agreement is reached, Dong will use the dock to assemble turbines and foundations for its offshore wind projects.

“The United Kingdom has a very ambitious plan for expanding the production of renewable energy,” Dong Energy Vice President Peter Gedbjerg said in the statement. “The possibility of a tailor-made facility to make the installation of offshore wind turbines even more efficient fits perfectly with Dong Energy’s goal of bringing down the construction cost of renewable energy.”

Skaerbaek, Denmark-based Dong Energy already has 308 megawatts of generating capacity at wind farms at Barrow and Burbo Bank off the U.K.’s west coast and in Gunfleeet Sands in the southeast. Sites under development include Walney off the west coast and the London Array, a 630-megawatt plan due for completion in 2012, when it would become the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.

Britain has 3.9 gigawatts of installed onshore wind capacity and 1.3 gigawatts of offshore power, with another 4.1 gigawatts of both land and sea-based turbines being built or fully contracted to do so, according to the RenewableUK report. A megawatt of wind capacity powers about 650 typical homes in the U.K., according to the group.

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