Wind turbine plant in Hull gets government funding to support expansion
Image credit: Dreamstime
Plans to more than double the size of the Siemens Gamesa wind turbine blade factory in Hull have been confirmed as the government announced it will provide grant funding to the firm as part of its support of the offshore wind industry.
Siemens said the upgrade of its operation on the Humber, which was first announced earlier this year, will create 200 direct new jobs as part of a £186m total investment. For its part, the UK government has said that Siemens Gamesa will receive grant funding from its £160m 'Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Support' scheme.
The Hull plant, in Alexandra Dock, is the largest offshore wind manufacturing facility in the UK, employing around 1,000 people. It has built more than 1,500 offshore wind turbine blades since it opened in 2016 and Siemens Gamesa said the new investment will mean the operation will continue to be a major driver of economic growth in the Yorkshire and the Humber region.
The giant turbines are used in wind farms already being constructed in the North Sea, as well as being exported around the world. The blades are currently being supplied to the 1.4 gigawatt Hornsea Two project off the Yorkshire coast, which will be the world’s largest offshore wind power plant, powering the equivalent of 1.3 million homes.
Siemens Gamesa said it has an offshore wind power order backlog of 9.4 billion euros (£8bn). The firm said construction on the expansion to its site is due to begin within weeks and should be completed in 2023.
Clark MacFarlane, UK managing director, Siemens Gamesa, said: “Our investment in our existing offshore blade factory, logistics and harbour facilities in Hull has been a key driver of the growth of the UK’s world-leading offshore wind industry.
“We are proud to commit our long-term future in Hull and the Humber, providing safe, clean-energy workplaces which also contribute to the decarbonisation of the UK’s energy supply.
“As we work towards unlocking the potential of wind power, we applaud the UK government’s strong and consistent support for offshore wind.”
The government funding is part of the £160m announced by prime minister Boris Johnson last year to further develop the UK’s offshore wind capabilities.
Johnson said: “The Humber region embodies the UK’s green industrial revolution, with new investment into developing the next generation of wind turbines set to create new jobs, export opportunities and clean power across the country.
“With less than 100 days to go until the climate summit COP26, we need to see more countries embracing new technologies, building green industries and phasing out coal power for a sustainable future.”
Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary, added: “With its close proximity to some of the world’s largest offshore wind farms and strong skills base, the Humber region is vitally important for the growth of British offshore wind and is at the heart of our green recovery.
“This joint £186m investment from government and Siemens Gamesa will give a boost to this important industrial heartland, creating and supporting thousands of good-quality jobs across the region while ensuring it is on the frontline of developing the next generation of offshore wind turbines and blades.”
As an island with much of its coastline facing the elementally turbulent North Sea, the UK's fortuitous geographical situation offers a solid opportunity to capitalise on wind power. Laying out the government's plans to “build back greener” from the coronavirus pandemic in late 2020, Johnson made wind energy one of the key planks, saying that the UK should quadruple its offshore wind energy capacity. Consequently, wind power was included in the UK government's 10-point plan for decarbonisation.
According to an assessment by independent climate and energy think tank Ember, released last month, the UK ranks sixth globally for its share of power generated by clean wind and solar. The report identified Denmark as leading the way, generating 61 per cent of its electricity from the two renewable sources, followed by Uruguay on 44 per cent.
The Scottish coast continues to be one of the most popular sites for new wind farms, with Scottish Power and petroleum giant Shell both submitting multiple bids last month for a large-scale floating offshore windfarm, as part of Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind Leasing scheme.
Energy firm Equinor also joined in the bidding war, as it seeks to further extend its North Sea energy facilities. The firm has already floated wind turbines at Hywind, located off the northeast coast of Scotland, that are now generating energy.
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