Energy giant Ørsted to expand Mersey team

Danish energy giant Ørsted, which operates to huge wind farms in Liverpool Bay, says it aims to expand its Liverpool city region team. Tony McDonough reports

Burbo Bank wind turbines from Leasowe beach. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

Renewable energy giant Ørsted is to expand its Liverpool city region team as it looks to start operating its two Liverpool Bay wind farms as a single facility.

And the Danish business, which operates 12 wind farms across the UK, says it is aiming to diversify its workforce by getting into schools to deliver the message that “offshore engineering is not just for boys”.

Formerly known as Dong Energy, Ørsted is the world’s largest developer of offshore wind power and has worked to divest, or transform to bio, all of its previous fossil fuel assets. According to the Corporate Knights Global 100 Index, the business is the most sustainable energy company in the world.

Ørsted has 12 operational offshore wind farms around the UK, with a further three in the development pipeline. They comprise more than 1,000 turbines, producing 4.9GW of electricity – enough to power 4.2m homes.

When its Hornsea Two wind farm, the biggest offshore wind farm in the world, comes online later this year its UK capacity will be enough to power 5.8m homes. Since 2007 the company has invested around £13bn into the UK.

READ MORE: Irish Sea wind farm project seeks Mersey suppliers

Lee Rollason oversees the running of its two Liverpool Bay wind farms – Burbo Bank and Burbo Bank extension – from its operations centre in Birkenhead on the banks of the River Mersey. He addressed members of Mersey Maritime at its first Face-2-Face monthly networking session of 2022.

“We are helping to create a world that runs entirely on green energy,” said Lee. “Our CO2 emissions have dropped significantly in the past 10 to 15 years and, at the same time, our operating profits have risen significantly.

“Starting in Denmark we have now grown our geographical footprint, first across Europe, and then to other parts of the world and we are now building assets in the US, Taiwan, with future growth planned for Japan and South Korea. We can develop, build and own our own assets and that is what separates us from our competitors.”

Ørsted’s current generating capacity is 12GW of electricity. Originally it set a target of 30GW by 2030 but with its expansion across the world gathering pace it has now upped that target to a more ambitious 50GW.

“That is a bold statement of intent,” added Lee. “And we’re working on having the pipeline to be able to deliver that. There are commitments from countries across the world. By 2030, offshore wind will be truly global.”

Burbo Bank 1 became operational in Liverpool Bay in 2007. It comprises 25 turbines generating 90MW of power and is 100% owned by Ørsted. It is connected to the mainland by three cables which come ashore in Wallasey. Burbo Bank extension is an illustration of how wind power technology has advanced in a decade and the innovation in the industry, innovation that Ørsted is committed to nurture to meet its vision.

Opening in 2017, it has 32 turbines, just seven more than Burbo Bank 1 but with a much bigger generating capacity of 258MW. Its 150m tall turbines are taller than both the Royal Liver Building and Blackpool Tower.

Lee Rollason
Lee Rollason of Ørsted addresses Mersey Maritime members
Burbo Bank 2
An idea of the size of wind turbines in Burbo Bank 2

 

It is 50% owned by Ørsted. In November 2021, stock market-listed Greencoat UK Wind agreed to pay £250m for a 25% stake Lee said: “When we built Burbo Bank 1 the turbines were arranged in lines, like soldiers. But Burbo Bank 2 is different. They are set out in a way to maximise the capacity from the available wind and harness as much power as possible.

“We will be looking to add to our team over the next year and employ more people. Burbo Bank 1 and 2 have been operated as two separate wind farms. But we want to get into the mindset where they are operating as a single power station.”

Building and maintaining wind farms is a huge undertaking, says Lee, and Ørsted has committed to utilising local contractors as much as possible. He added: “We have put tens of millions of pounds into the Liverpool city region over the past few years.

“We have also established a community benefit fund worth £225,000 a year that offers support to our local community organisations. We are also involved in Eureka! which is a new educational tourist attraction on the Mersey.

“We see that as an opportunity to get the message out that we want to diversify our workforce. A lot of offshore engineers are men. We want to get the message out to young people through schools that offshore engineering is not just for boys.”

As well as offshore wind, Ørsted is also investing in other areas of renewable energy. These include facilities focused on onshore wind, solar, hydrogen and biomass. It has also invested in a 20MW battery storage project at a site in Liverpool.

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