Huw sees the power of floating offshore wind at French trade visit21st Mar 2023

A trade mission to the south of France has given Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK’s chairman a key insight into floating offshore wind opportunities in the Celtic Sea.

Huw Jones MBE was one of just 19 delegates invited by the Welsh Government to learn more about the first of France’s pilot floating wind farms, located at Fos-sur-Mer, near Marseille.

The project, Provence Grand Large, has involved building floating platforms which reach deeper into the sea and can be deployed further from the shore than fixed turbines, benefitting from stronger winds and causing less disturbance to the seabed.

Floventis Energy, a joint venture between CIERCO and SBM Offshore, supported the visit to help show Welsh supply chain companies, ports, and industry membership bodies the scale of the project following it securing an agreement for lease for the Llŷr developments.

Located 31km off the coast of Pembrokeshire, Llŷr 1 and Llŷr 2 will see between six and eight turbines installed at each site.

They are anticipated to have the generating power of 200 megawatts, enough to supply 200,000 homes with clean energy by 2027.

The Celtic Sea, which surrounds South Wales, South West England, and the southern coast of Ireland, has the potential to develop four gigawatts (GW) of floating wind by 2035.

The first GW is expected to deliver more than 3,000 jobs and £682m in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030.

Reflecting on the trip, Huw said: “It was fantastic to have Jones Bros recognised for our long-standing experience of offshore wind work through the invitation.

“Receiving insight on how we can best support the project was invaluable, especially as these pioneering developments will create substantial long-term opportunities for people and companies in Wales.”

Jones Bros is currently delivering land-based infrastructure at the first two phases of the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Dogger Bank.

The Ruthin-based firm has completed the enabling works for the third phase of Dogger Bank as well as neighbouring Sofia Offshore Wind Farm in the north east of England.

Welsh Government economy minister Vaughan Gething, who was also in attendance, said: “Floating wind is critical to meeting our ambitious net-zero emission targets.

“With enormous potential to be a core technology for reaching our climate goals, it will provide energy security and could help balance the UK’s energy system.

“Independent studies have suggested there could be as much as 50GW of electricity capacity available in the Celtic Sea waters of the UK and Ireland.

“Floating wind will also provide new low carbon supply chain opportunities, support coastal communities, and create long-term benefits for the region.

“That’s why it is so important that we work with developers and support Welsh businesses to help them to understand the scale of the opportunity and build connections so that they can grow in Wales.”

Head of project development UK and Ireland for SBM Offshore, Cian Conroy, added: “The visit gave our potential supply chain partners in Wales the opportunity to understand what will be required for the development of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea and how they can start to prepare for the opportunity ahead.”

Established in the 1950s, Jones Bros owns one of the largest plant fleets in the UK and employs approximately 500 people.

The company is currently working on contracts in various sectors including highwaysflood and marine defencewaste management and renewable energy around the UK.

The company runs an award-winning apprenticeship scheme, which has produced nearly 40 per cent of its current workforce, with many of its senior managers having started out as apprentices or in a trainee role. It has recruited more than 100 apprentices during the past three years.