NORTH-EAST energy bosses say the region can play a major role in building one of the world's largest wind farms.
Industry leaders are lining up to work on the 600-turbine Dogger Bank Creyke Beck development.
The project, which includes two wind farms off the East Yorkshire coast, would create and support thousands of construction and maintenance jobs.
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The Government has now accepted a planning application for the wind farm, which, if sanctioned by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, would dwarf the world's current largest wind farm, the 175-turbine £1.9bn London Array, that opened in July.
The North-East is a specialist in offshore energy, and home to companies building and servicing turbines and digging underwater routes to lay power cables.
Firms such as Tag Energy Solutions, near Billingham, which is building steel sections for Eon's wind farm off the Humber Estuary, in East Yorkshire, and Hartlepool-based JDR Cables, which sent more than 200km of power cables to London Array, could play a key role in Dogger Bank work.
Nigel Ward, commercial director of Darlington-based subsea trenching and remote operated vehicle firm Modus, says it wants to work on Dogger Bank.
The company is developing a new division of underwater units to survey and inspect offshore energy projects, and dug trenches for cables linking the Teesside wind farm, off the coast of Redcar, to the mainland.
He said: “Offshore energy is massive for this region and industry in the area has boomed on the back of it.
“There could be 1,000 turbines on Dogger Bank and the project is something we would be very keen to get involved with.
“About half of our revenue comes from offshore renewables and we have worked on a number of projects, such as the Teesside wind farm, in Redcar, so we have the experience.”
Joanne Leng, deputy chief executive of business development organisation NOF Energy, and deputy chairwoman of Energi Coast, which represents the North-East offshore renewable sector, said Dogger Bank represented a massive opportunity for regional firms.
She said: “North-East firms can definitely benefit from this development, from the construction stage right through to the ongoing maintenance.
“We have a strong supply chain in the region that works together and collaborates extremely well on projects.
“It covers the whole energy spectrum and could certainly play an important part in Dogger Bank.”
Who could benefit from Dogger Bank?
MODUS: Works with specialist underwater vehicles to survey and inspect offshore projects. Based in Darlington, it dug trenches for power cables on the Teesside wind farm, off Redcar's coast.
TAG ENERGY SOLUTIONS: Makes wind turbines on the banks of the River Tees and won a deal to build steel sections on Eon's wind farm, off the Humber Estuary, in East Yorkshire.
JDR CABLES: Based in Hartlepool, it supplies power cabling for offshore wind farms, sending 200km of cables to the 175-turbine London Array development. Earlier this year, it received Government Regional Growth Fund cash, which bosses say will be invested into its North-East factory.
DEEPOCEAN: The Darlington firm specialises in trenchers, ploughs and remote-operated vehicles to dig seabed routes for pipes and cables. Employing about 120 workers, it recently fitted 80 underwater cables at the Bard wind farm and buried cables at the Dolwin wind farm, both off the German coast.
REEF SUBSEA: Based in Stockton, the company earlier this year won a £40m contract to help build one of the largest offshore wind farms by connecting 161 turbines in substations off North Wales, on the Gwynt y Mor Offshore Wind Farm.
SOIL MACHINE DYNAMICS: Makes remotely-operated vehicles, which lay high-voltage cabling underwater at depths of up to 2,000 metres. Based in Wallsend, near Newcastle, it earlier this year won a third consecutive Queen's Award for Enterprise for its innovative subsea ploughing and trenching technology.