UK shipyards and offshore wind farms
February 21, 2013
Flying back from London earlier this week, I settled into my seat and
opened up the day’s edition of the Financial
Times. A photo of workers at a shipyard caught my eye. I read with interest
the accompanying article about how development of offshore wind farms is
benefiting shipyards in the United Kingdom.
Cammell Laird, one of the oldest British
shipyards, has delivered more than 1,300 vessels during its 200 years of production,
ranging from a U.S. Confederate ship to the steamer used for Dr. Livingstone’s
Africa explorations. The yard is now moving aggressively into the burgeoning
business of offshore wind farms, which are flapping their turbines off much of
Britain’s shores these days.
fact the company is so bullish on wind power that it is positioning itself to
take a leading role in this renewable energy sector, investing heavily in
facilities to support the assembly, storage and movement of components needed
to build and maintain offshore wind turbines.
U.S. yards, Cammell Laird saw its order books clipped back by hard economic
times. Things got so bad that it had to close in the early 1990s, reopened in
1997, but then went bankrupt in 2001. It reemerged as a privately held company
and today employs 750 workers.
has picked up over the past year due to offshore wind work. The company expects
to post its highest earnings in more than a decade. Renewable energy work now
accounts for almost 15 percent of total revenues, and the company thinks
revenue from this source could double in the next few years.
yard is fortunate to be located near the Gwynt y Mor turbine site, which when
completed will be one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world. A new
generation jackup vessel has just arrived at its yard, where it will be outfitted
with specific equipment before being put to work installing wind turbine
foundations at the Gwynt y Mor site in the Irish Sea. More such vessel work is
made me wonder whether the situation in Britain could be a good barometer for
what U.S. yards might expect as the offshore wind industry gets going here.
There have been promising signs that the first and subsequent projects will
begin producing energy within the next year or so. Hopefully U.S. yards are positioning
themselves for the opportunities, just as Cammell Laird has across the pond.