thousands of jobs look set to be created in North Tyneside, thanks to winds of change in the energy market.
Bosses at Offshore Group Newcastle (OGN) are celebrating after landing a £640,250 government grant to carry out further research on foundations for wind turbines to be sited at sea.
The firm’s Hadrian Yard site in Wallsend has been chosen by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to build a prototype steel-jacketed foundation for turbines.
The investment in creating the Triton jacket is part of an offshore wind component technologies development and demonstration initiative being encouraged by the government.
Construction of the prototype Triton jacket by OGN and its sister company Aquind is set to begin later this year.
The Triton foundation structures are designed for large wind turbine generators sited in waters more than 100ft deep.
OGN is close to submitting a planning application for a new £50m factory at its Wallsend site, with a view to producing 150 Triton jackets a year from 2014 onwards.
That move would create 1,000 new jobs, and it is anticipated that 5,000 jobs could follow over the next two decades.
Announcing the grant, energy and climate change minister Greg Barker said: “This cash shows we are delivering on our commitment to support innovation and offshore wind.
“Making wind turbines more efficient is common sense and will help bring down the costs, making them more attractive to build and helping us increase the amount of electricity we get from clean, green sources.
“It’s great to see OGN stepping up to the challenge to ensure offshore wind energy is produced in the most cost-effective way.”
OGN chief executive David Edwardssaid: “We are delighted to have been selected for this grant.
“Government support is especially vital in the early stages of project development.
“The offshore wind energy market is crucial to Britain’s future energy needs, and we will do our utmost to ensure that this grant takes the UK into an even stronger role as the lead player in this sector.
“This grant is important for the development of Aquind and is fantastic news for Tyneside and the north east.”
Graham Kennedy, OGN’s chief technical officer at Wallsend site, added: “The offshore wind market is dynamic and requires an efficient and driven supply chain to support and deliver its objectives.
“Our Triton design and technology has the potential to reduce the costs of offshore wind foundations by at least 25 per cent, making wind energy a viable renewable energy source for the UK.”
Borough mayor Linda Arkley welcomed the news, saying: “It is excellent to see jobs coming and the sector really growing in Tyneside.
“We can really see that along the banks of the Tyne, things are coming together.
“The OGN announcement is the latest piece of the jigsaw, and it is excellent news for North Tyneside.”
OGN, founded in 2010, already employs 1,200 staff in Wallsend and Lowestoft in Suffolk.
n New training centre will create 80 jobs – Page 3