The second largest offshore windfarm in the world was opened of the Suffolk coast by Energy and Business Minister Michael today.
Costing £1.3billion, the 140 turbine development will generate enough electricity to power more than half a million homes.
Plans are in hand to double the size of the Greater Gabbard windfarm once the Galloper extension is completed in 2017.
The UK Government said offshore wind has the potential to provide enough clean energy for 11million homes in the UK by the end of the decade, creating 30,000 jobs and contributing £7billion to the economy.
Mr Fallon said: “The UK leads the world in offshore wind power generation with more capacity than the rest of the world combined, and we want to see this sector grow even further.
“Greater Gabbard has already brought jobs and wider benefit to the local community, with hundreds of people employed on site, and a £150,000 fund created to support local initiatives, which will be managed by Suffolk Community Foundation.
“It has also benefited local business. Today, I visited Seajacks, a British company based in Great Yarmouth, who are building the world’s largest and most advanced offshore wind farm installation vessel to transport turbines out to this great wind farm.
“This sector is an engine of our economy. By the end of this decade, tens of thousands of additional jobs could be created in the supply-chain for offshore wind throughout the UK.”
Industry group RenewableUK said the project was worth more than £500million to the UK economy through job creation and investment in the supply chain.
“This project really shows the opportunity at hand for British companies in the offshore wind industry,” said deputy chief executive Maf Smith.
“Greater Gabbard alone has already brought half a billion pounds of new investment to companies across the UK. This opportunity is here and now, and UK companies are rightly seizing the chance to become part of the burgeoning offshore wind supply chain.”
The development had created 100 permanent jobs in wind farm operations and maintenance, with 95% of employees coming from the local area.
Ongoing maintenance and service contracts to come over the next 20 years will be worth an extra £100 million to the total value of the project.
The Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy, published last week, sets out Government and industry’s joint plans to help build a thriving UK supply chain for offshore wind. Investment by the Government includes £20million from the Regional Growth Fund to improve the UK wind industry’s supply chain, and £46million to join up innovation between industry, government and academia and help companies to bring new products to market.
The government said alongside the draft strike prices for renewable energy, and the long-term contracts offered to investors under the Energy Bill, it provides a stable and certain regime that is attractive for investors in renewables.
Mr Fallon also visited the Sizewell nuclear power plant to learn more about how Greater Gabbard will connect to the national transmission network.