U.K.’s Fallon Says Offshore Wind Is Engine for Economy

Offshore wind power is an “engine” of the U.K. economy, Energy and Business Minister Michael Fallon said today as he opened the world’s second-biggest wind farm at sea.

Fallon was inaugurating the 1.3 billion-pound ($2 billion) Greater Gabbard wind farm off eastern England, a joint venture between RWE AG’s Innogy unit and SSE Plc. The 504-megawatt plant will double in capacity once its Galloper extension opens in 2017, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said today in an e-mailed statement.

The U.K. has more offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world together, and last week ministers published a strategy to attract more of the supply chain to Britain, where turbine makers such as Siemens AG, Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA and Samsung Heavy Industries Co. are considering building factories. Currently no turbines are built in the U.K, while some other components are.

“We want to see this sector grow even further,” Fallon said in the statement. “This sector is an engine of our economy. By the end of this decade, tens of thousands of additional jobs could be created in the supply-chain for offshore wind throughout the U.K.”

The government said last week it wants to boost jobs in the industry to 30,000 by 2020 from 4,000 now, adding an annual 7 billion pounds to the economy.

Ministers want 50 percent of the capital expenditure for offshore wind farms and 85 percent of the servicing spending to be in the U.K. by 2020.

Greater Gabbard is second in size only to the London Array, a 630-megawatt project by EON SE, Dong Energy A/S and Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. that opened east of the capital on July 4. Greater Gabbard is equipped with 140 Siemens turbines and has been fully operational since last September.

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