Ministers announce a £50 million pound investment in renewable energy

Energy Minister, Arlene Foster and Regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy join Chairman of Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Len O'Hagan (left) and Managing Director of Farrans Construction, Eamonn Sweeney at the announcement of a £ 50 Million investment by Belfast Harbour in a new offshore wind logistics terminal for DONG Energy.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy today officially announced Belfast Harbour's plans to develop a £50 million Offshore Wind Logistics Terminal, for DONG Energy.

The letter of intent, signed by the partners in February 2011, has now been finalised and construction work to develop the 450-metre quay and 50-acre logistics centre has been awarded to the Northern Ireland based company Farrans (Construction) Ltd. The development is the first of its kind in the UK and the largest ever development in Belfast Harbour's history.

The tailor-made facility, which is expected to create up to 150 jobs during its construction phase, will be used by DONG Energy to pre-assemble offshore wind turbines and their foundations for installation at wind farms situated in the Irish Sea. The first project will be to service West of Duddon Sands offshore wind farm - a 50/50 joint venture between DONG Energy and ScottishPower Renewables.

Arlene Foster said: "Belfast's Harbour area is well placed to become a major centre in the rapidly expanding offshore wind sector and over the next 20 years stands to benefit from the significant business opportunities that have been identified. This investment clearly demonstrates DONG Energy's confidence in our local capabilities and underlines Northern Ireland's potential to become a leading player in this sector.

"In addition, it is expected that The Crown Estate will shortly seek Expressions of Interest for the development of offshore wind and tidal projects in Northern Ireland waters - another key opportunity for Northern Ireland companies."

Danny Kennedy said: "This key investment project will see the continued regeneration of Belfast's docks and harbour area and provides the basis for Northern Ireland to benefit from a growing national and international renewables market. The project will also deliver a welcome boost to the construction industry with up to 150 employed in the building of this facility."

DONG Energy is a world leader in offshore wind farms and has built five of the world's ten largest offshore wind farms. Invest NI and Belfast Harbour recently hosted a supply chain event in conjunction with Dong Energy and its associated sub-contractors, including Siemens Windpower, Siemens UK and A2SEA, in order to raise awareness of business opportunities available for local companies. The event was attended by over 140 company delegates and a series of one-to one initial supply chain scoping meetings took place with further follow up planned.