ONE of the world’s largest turbine manufacturers is set to create hundreds of new jobs by establishing a huge factory along the northeast coast of Britain - with the Humber believed to be on the shortlist of possible locations.
French manufacturer Areva Wind has announced it is considering four possible sites which could house the new factory, and will make a final decision this autumn.
The Humber is understood to be firmly in the running, competing against other port sites further up the east coast on the Tyne, Tees and in southeast Scotland.
Areva’s announcement follows a report this week which found the UK’s burgeoning offshore wind industry could support almost 100,000 jobs by the end of the decade if the Government presses ahead with plans for a series of vast new wind farms around the coast of the British Isles.
The Yorkshire Post is campaigning for the Humber to become a manufacturing hub for the thousands of turbines which will be required for the two largest offshore wind farms, which will be located off its coastline at Hornsea and Dogger Bank.
Siemens has already announced plans for an 800-workforce turbine factory at the new Green Port Hull development, and there is now a real prospect Areva could follow suit at another site along the Humber.
Areva’s director of UK wind, Julian Brown, said: “Working on our UK industrial plans is a clear part of our strategy.
“The plans and the potential for UK offshore are absolutely extraordinary, and this is a huge opportunity for us - both to meet our commitments in terms of carbon-free energy production, but also for the UK to recognise the huge economic benefits and real jobs.
“I have a passion for bringing manufacturing back to the UK and I see offshore wind as a fantastic opportunity.”
The UK is already the global leader in offshore wind, with more installed turbines than the rest of the world put together.
But they represent only a tiny fraction of what is proposed over the coming years, with a series of enormous wind farms set to be built in British waters creating enough electricity to meet a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs.
The Dogger Bank development alone will be the largest wind farm in the world, covering an area of North Sea the size of North Yorkshire.
These plans have led a stream of manufacturers to announce plans for possible turbine factories at port sites along the UK’s east coast, as close as possible to where the wind farms will be deployed.
The Humber faces fierce competition to attract the new jobs to the region, however.
Earlier this year Spanish manufacturer Gamesa announced its new £125 million wind turbine plant would be sited at the Port of Leith in Scotland, rather than further down the east coast.
Samsung and Mitsubishi have also both announced plans for turbine production plants north of the border.
Danish firm Vestas, meanwhile, is planning to locate its new turbine factory at the Port of Sheerness in Kent.
Other firms still circling include French firm Alstom and German company REpower.
Mr Brown suggested the final decisions for many manufacturers will likely be delayed until the Government makes a crucial announcement this summer about the size of the long-term subsidies which will be made available to the industry.
“There needs to be a environment where there is confidence for investment,” Mr Brown said. “For developers, because the market is sound, and investment for us as manufacturers in the necessary infrastructure to deliver this.”
Attracting another major turbine plant to Yorkshire would have huge knock-on effects for smaller manufacturers along the supply chain throughout the region.
Areva has made it clear it will aim to support British suppliers wherever its new plant is located.
“There’s a clear mandate from the UK Government that there has to be an economic benefit to the UK,” Mr Brown said. “I endorse that.”