When you think about the most exciting industries in the world, what initially comes to mind? Tech? Aerospace? Or maybe the media industry if you’re a reader of the HuffPost…
Well for me, it’s a combination of energy and technology. And more specifically, renewable energy and technology. It’s such a topical area at the moment too and not a day seems to go by without something concerning our energy future grabbing the headlines – whether it’s the ban of all petrol and diesel cars from 2040 or the Government’s new Faraday Challenge for battery technology.
What’s truly exciting is that the UK is leading the world in renewable technology and so I’m delighted to be at a company that’s right at the forefront of this shift to a new, smarter energy system. DONG Energy is the world leader in offshore wind and is playing its part in putting the UK at the heart of the global energy transition.
I feel very fortunate to be following in the footsteps of my predecessor, Brent Cheshire, who left a healthy and thriving UK business. Not only this, I’m joining at a fascinating moment for both DONG Energy and the offshore wind industry, with new technology being developed and costs falling rapidly.
There have already been some standout moments in my short time with the company, and one of those was the installation of the first ever wind turbine blades to be manufactured at the Siemens factory in Hull at our Race Bank wind farm. The milestone at Race Bank is important not just for that project, but for the whole industry. We’re seeing a world leading supply chain for offshore wind thrive in the UK, with businesses that can not only supply projects here but are also ready to export around the globe.
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark recently said the Humber was the Government’s Industrial Strategy in action and he’s absolutely right. We have a major presence in this area and we’re seeing offshore wind, alongside other renewable technologies, contribute to the regeneration of the region – creating highly skilled jobs, training the next generation of young people and providing the certainty for businesses to invest in new facilities.
On the other side of the UK, construction has just finished on our brand new operations base on the banks of the Mersey. This is an amazing new facility which will serve both of our Burbo Bank wind farms.
These projects, happening across of the North of the UK, are only a snapshot of what we’re delivering but they already make me feel hugely encouraged about what awaits over the coming months and years. I believe we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible too.
Look at the staggering progress in offshore wind over the past 10 years alone. In 2007, we opened our first Burbo Bank project which featured record breaking 3.6 megawatt turbines. At the time, these turbines were – quite rightly – considered huge but now, this year, our Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind farm has opened with 8 megawatt turbines. Each one is taller than the Gherkin building in London. That’s big on anyone’s scale!
Staying on the theme of progress and Burbo Bank, two months ago we announced that we’ll integrate a first of its kind battery system into that project to help keep the grid frequency stable. We know the need for flexibility is likely to grow as more renewable energy comes onto the system and we want to be part of the solution.
As offshore wind continues to thrive, DONG Energy is playing a leading role in the creation of an offshore wind sector deal with the Government to help map out the future of the industry. With the right support, offshore wind can be the backbone of a smarter energy system.
While I’ve extolled the virtues of offshore wind, we also expect to be celebrating the opening of our world first REnescience bioenergy plant in Northwich this year too. This is an important milestone for our business and, once up and running, the facility will treat 120,000 tonnes of household waste every year, turning it into renewable power as well as clean recyclable material.
Alongside bioenergy and offshore wind, our UK sales business is providing our commercial and industrial customers with flexible solutions for their energy demands and green energy without the premium. This all adds up to a very healthy UK business and, crucially, one that has a central role to play in the future of our country.
I look forward to being at the forefront of this hugely significant energy transformation, where renewable technology provides the power for our homes, businesses and vehicles. It’s a great place to be and I hope you will follow my journey at DONG Energy.
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