Campaigners have poured scorn on the claim of a firm behind a major offshore wind farm being built off the coast of North Wales that it will power a third of homes in Wales with green energy.
The latest milestone for Gwynt y Mor has been passed with the departure by sea from Belfast of the UK-engineered-and built Siemens offshore substation.
Destined for installation in Liverpool Bay, the 1,500 tonne platform was jointly designed, engineered and fabricated by Siemens in Manchester and Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries Ltd.
Sales manager at H&W, David McVeigh, said: “It is great to see these major projects designed and built in the UK.
“These projects utilise a vast range of UK products, equipment, services and personnel.
“The substations are a shining example of British companies working together to achieve great things.”
This month also saw the start of the laying of foundations and subsea cables for the first of the 160 wind turbines, which will make up the offshore RWE npower renewables wind farm due for completion in 2014.
When completed the wind farm will generate green energy for almost a third of the total of homes in Wales, Siemens said.
With the first substation lifted by crane on to a foundation, connections from the wind farm arrays off the coast of Llandudno and the shore can then be made to the platform.
The substation will start exporting power to the electricity grid in 2013.
Gwynt y Mor’s construction so far has already supported hundreds of design, engineering and construction jobs in Wales, the northwest of England and Northern Ireland, and generated over £300m for the UK economy.
But John Lawson-Reay, chairman of the Llandudno-based wind farm protest group Save Our Scenery, poured scorn on the claim the project would supply a third of Wales’ electricity.
He said: “The only time they might provide anything near that power is when the wind is at gale force.
“It has to be force seven for them to have the full output and most of the time the turbines are not turning enough because despite what they claim we don’t have as much wind as they like to think we have.”
Siemens is creating many new green engineering roles in Manchester and H&W has created highly skilled engineering jobs during the substations project.
On completion, at least another 100 long term, skilled engineering jobs will be created at RWE npower renewables’ operations and maintenance base at the Port of Mostyn.
John Willcock, managing director of Siemens Energy Transmission UK, said: “The Gwynt y Mor project is a very key project for the UK.
“The substations have been designed, engineered and built here, which is a huge boost to UK manufacturing and local job creation.
“It is also a great demonstration of the ongoing vibrancy of the renewables sector and its potential for the UK economy.”
RWE npower renewables’ Gwynt y Mor project director, Toby Edmonds, said: “This latest milestone is fantastic news for the project.”
But Tory AM for Aberconwy Janet Finch-Saunders said the project will damage tourism in North Wales and is only viable with massive Government subsidies for renewables.
“Without the subsidies the companies wouldn’t be erecting these wind farms. Who pays for the subsidy? None other than the energy users themselves so indirectly we’ll all be paying for the efficiency or inefficiency of it.
“I am yet to be convinced that the size and scale of Gwynt y Mor will benefit my constituency or indeed Llandudno.”
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