Region must be prepared or risk missing out on green opportunity

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LORD Prescott has urged the Humber to “show off” its assets in order to take full advantage of its renewable energy potential.

The former Deputy Prime Minister called on the area to work together to ensure it is at the forefront of the green revolution.

He made his comments at a flagship renewables conference, aimed at helping companies across Yorkshire to prepare for the region’s emerging clean energy sector.

Renewing The Humber, staged at the KC Stadium in Hull, attracted more than 120 business people and industry leaders.

Lord Prescott, former Hull East MP, said: “The Humber has a wealth of assets.

“We have major green ports, ship building services, renewables opportunities, wind and tidal, coal and gas and carbon capture possibilities.

“We’re also on the right side of the country for the continent, we have Drax, good infrastructure and, of course, the Humber Bridge.

“The bridge is a real asset now more than ever. We must remember that this isn’t about north bank and south bank.

“If we want to be the leading region in the UK for renewable energy, we need to show off our assets on both sides.”

Yorkshire, and particularly the Humber region, is establishing itself as a hub for green energy industry.

Proposals for a multi-million pound Siemens wind turbine assembly plant earmarked for Hull’s port will be considered by the city’s planning authority on Wednesday.

It is the third time Renewing The Humber has been staged, with this year’s conference having the theme of Meeting the Challenge.

Presentations addressed many of the issues that, if not properly considered by businesses, could see locally-based companies miss out on the chance to form part of the green energy supply chain. These include cost-reduction, skills, recruitment, innovation and finance. Delegates were told that having geographical advantage – with the Humber being just 12 hours’ sailing time from huge wind farms planned for the North Sea – was not enough on its own to win contracts in a highly-competitive, global marketplace.

Professor David Grant, director of the Logistics Institute at Hull University Business School and one of the conference speakers, said not as many companies “as we would hope” are ready for the renewables revolution.

But he said the region does have great potential.

Professor Grant said: “We have identified that the region has the capability to become a real challenger to those already established in the industry.

“However, our businesses need to invest in developing the necessary skills to be profitably involved in the renewable sector supply chain – from supplying machinery and parts for the offshore wind farm and biomass sectors to providing maintenance and service for all the renewable sectors.”

Renewing The Humber, sponsored by KMS Facilities Group, is organised by the Renewables Network and Hull-based Footprint Renewables.

Andrew Morton, account director of Footprint Renewables, said: “If we get it right, renewables could be the industry that defines our region for future decades.

“But we have to prepare now and be serious about the challenges that need to be overcome, if we are to make the most of this historic opportunity.”