'Beautiful friendship' between Centrica and Grimsby toasted at launch of wind energy facility
"A VERY beautiful friendship" between energy giant Centrica and Grimsby has been toasted as a multi-million-pound wind farm operations facility was officially opened on the North Wall.
Senior executives from British Gas' parent company poured compliments on the hard-working town and hinterland that acts as a key engine room for the UK.
Managing director of Centrica Energy's power generation arm, Simon Merriweather, said: "This is the start and, in fact, continuation, of a very beautiful friendship.
"We have been keeping the lights on in the UK for very many years, with a power portfolio including nuclear, wind, gas and our developing biomass business.
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"Our mission is to secure the UK energy needs, and in this local area we do this through local power stations at Stallingborough, Brigg and Killingholme.
"In particularly tough times, as we all know these are, the teams at these stations have been pioneers with a 'can do' attitude.
"That, together with a very positive reaction we have had locally, has enabled us to grow and invest in this local business that we have, and to enable us to get to this point, to open the Grimsby centre."
As previously reported, the distinctive blue and grey-clad two-storey control centre, workshop, stores and crew facilities, will be used to oversee both the Centrica joint venture operational Round One Lynn and Inner Dowsing farms and the under construction Lincs Round Two asset, the latter of which generated first power only last month.
More than 100 people, many of whom have been working from temporary accommodation over the past four years, will now use the base, with the capacity to handle more at peak summer maintenance periods.
Lincs, when complete, will generate power for up to 200,000 homes -– approximately half of Lincolnshire's residences.
Mr Merriweather said: "That is our latest wind farm and there is more to come.
"Clearly we are a very important force here and we find the area's renewable coast here a very important area of investment for us."
More than 60 guests and Centrica staff were given a tour of the facility, where not only will wind farms be controlled 24/7, 365 days a year, but movements of engineers through swipe card systems operated on land and sea. Those invited included the Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Mike Burton, and Mayoress, Audrey Burton; key economic development representatives and a strong delegation from Grimsby Renewables Partnership.
Mick Turner, head of operations and maintenance for Centrica Renewables, said: "Just over a year ago we said we wanted to build a world-class facility as a signal that this could be a great hub for offshore renewables. We have done that. This base represents a long-term commitment to Grimsby."
Stating how talks with ABP and other parties in town were already underway as the feasibility of another wind farm – Race Bank – is considered, with Grimsby again sought as a base, Mr Turner said: "I would like to say a big thank you for the support of local people, local organisations and the local council, for their attitude and perseverance; the designers, planners and construction workers for their efforts; Siemens for their expertise in helping deliver a world-class operations and maintenance facility, and the Centrica team for their willingness to learn and their dedication to a challenging and pioneering industry in which we work.
"This work is starting to increase the contribution to the UK energy needs.
"It is also evolving and developing rapidly.
"Grimsby is at the heart of this new and exciting industry and well placed to capitalise on future development."
As reported, more than 20 boats are already operating out of Port of Grimsby East, with E.on committed to joining Centrica on the land, which has attracted enterprise zone status. More utility providers are also understood to be interested.