THOUSANDS of hi-tech manufacturing jobs could be created along the banks of the River Humber as negotiations to bring further wind turbine manufacturers to the region intensify.
Two more multinational energy giants – French firm Alstom and Spain-based Gamesa – have confirmed they are actively considering sites along the east coast of Britain to base huge new factories for the manufacture of the 400ft offshore turbines that will form a key part of the country’s coming green energy revolution.
They join American giant General Electric, which is still considering location options after announcing plans for a £100m UK plant last year, and German technology firm Siemens, which has already pencilled in the port of Hull as the most likely destination for its own turbine manufacturing factory.
Their expansion is being driven by Government-led proposals for a massive expansion of the UK’s offshore wind capability, including the construction of two of the world’s largest wind farms off the Yorkshire and north-east coast at Hornsea and Dogger Bank.
With thousands of new turbines needed as Britain moves to a low carbon economy, manufacturers want to site new factories as close to the offshore sites as possible to keep costs down.
Regional planners believe if a cluster of manufacturers can be convinced they should build around the Humber ports, up to 10,000 new jobs could potentially be created, both directly and along the supply chain.
The Yorkshire Post launched its Powering Yorkshire’s Future campaign last year, calling on the Government, planners and private enterprise to do all they can to bring the new investment to this region.
The recent announcements by Alstom and Gamesa further up the stakes as Yorkshire battles with other ports which are equally keen to revive their own manufacturing bases.
A spokeswoman for Alstom said: “Alstom has plans to establish an industrial cluster in the UK, and is in discussion with a number of ports along the north-east coast. This will support the manufacturing of Alstom’s six megawatt offshore wind turbine, with design features optimised for North Sea conditions.”
Yorkshire’s main rivals for the new investment appear to be Newcastle and in Scotland, where firms including Clipper and Mitsubishi have announced plans for turbine manufacturing plants.
Alstom recently announced it was buying 40 per cent of Scottish tidal energy firm AWS Ocean Energy.
However, it also has interests in Yorkshire, following proposals for a partnership with Drax power station at Selby for a ‘clean coal’ carbon capture and storage plant there.
Able UK, which owns land on the south bank of the River Humber at the Port of Immingham which it hopes to transform into a green energy park, said negotiations are continuing with several large multinational turbine manufacturers but no announcement could be made at this stage.
“We are actively engaged with the sector,” said Able director Neil Etherington. ”We’re talking to companies with varying degrees of success – some of it is very positive. We believe the Humber has the most to offer of any of the possible sites.”
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