Sheringham Shoal: Opening speech
It is a great pleasure to attend the opening of the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm. The importance that Norway attaches to this event is illustrated by the delegation that is accompanying me today.
I am delighted to be here at this fine Hall in this beautiful part of East Anglia. The region is known for its exceptionally sunny and dry climate and its flat landscape. This combined with the long, windy coastline makes it a perfect environment for wind power production.
At the end of the ninth century, there was a strong Viking influence here. This is still visible in the names of many streets and villages. Several Scandinavian kings and princes have also been here before me. I am sorry to say that King Sweyn Forkbeard who came in 1004, raided and burnt down the city of Norwich. However, I would like to point out that he was Danish not Norwegian, and I assure you that I have come in peace!
United by our history and by the North Sea, our two countries have a strong and deeply rooted relationship. We work closely together on a number of issues and we also have a long history of bilateral cooperation in areas such as energy, defence, research and business.
Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, the reason we join here today, is an example of the tangible partnerships between our two nations. It is also a project which demonstrates a new path of energy cooperation: one of renewable energy. Energy has been the cornerstone in UK–Norwegian relations for many years. The UK is the most important export market for Norway, and oil and gas comprise more than 90 % of this export.
This morning I had the opportunity to see the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm myself. The view from the helicopter was spectacular. 88 turbines extend over a vast sea area. The blades were turning and I could literally feel the machinery at work. These windmills will produce enough power to supply more than 200 000 households.
Worldwide, 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity. In this perspective, the effect of Sheringham Shoal is modest. But every unit of electricity generated from the wind saves a unit generated from fossil fuels, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases equivalently. Thus the Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm saves roughly 500 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. It is also a significant contribution to reach the UK`s ambitious goal that 30 % of the electricity shall come from clean energy sources by 2020.
However, the offshore wind industry is still in its infancy. The technology is expensive, the supplier industry is still being developed and there are many industry standards that still need to be set.
Against this backdrop, Sheringham Shoal is bringing the industry a significant step forward. Two of Norway’s largest companies, Statoil and Statkraft, are proud partners in this endeavour.
The UK has assumed leadership when it comes to green energy. There is no question that Britain is a world leader in wind energy. Sheringham Shoal is a tangible example of this.
It also serves as an example of how offshore wind production provides a basis for closer technology and business cooperation between Norway and the United Kingdom.
Congratulations, and thank you.