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Wind power factories bring hiring boom to Humber

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Nearly 500 jobs are to be created in one of Britain’s biggest boom industries, offshore wind engineering.

Two new facilities are to be built on the Humber, the fulcrum of the country’s wind power construction industry, as the sector gears up to deliver government pledges to treble the amount of installed capacity over the next decade

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Siemens Gamesa, the German-Spanish wind turbine engineering group, is more than doubling the size of its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Hull incorporating the next generation of wind technology.

GRI Renewable Industries, a Spanish firm, has committed to building a wind turbine tower manufacturing facility at the redeveloped brownfield Able Marine Energy Park down river on the south bank of the Humber.

The Siemens Gamesa expansion will cost £186 million and expand the directly employed workforce by 200 to 1200. The GRI plant is being constructed at a cost of £78 million and will create 260 jobs.

The British taxpayer is putting up £160 million of the total £266 million cost of the projects.

The government claims that 3,000 jobs are being created in Britain’s offshore wind boom. The UK has the largest installed wind power capacity in the world. The Humber is the gateway to Hornsea, the world’s biggest offshore array, supplied by Siemens Gamesa turbines and operated by Orsted, the Danish firm formerly known as Dong Energy. It has the capacity to produce 1.2 gigawatts of electricity, similar to the output of an old-style mid-sized coal-fired power station.

That is to the south of the giant Dogger Bank windfarm, which is under construction and will become the world’s largest renewable array when complete, capable of producing 3.6 gigawatts of electricity, or more than that planned for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset. That GE Renewables project is set to create more than 750 new jobs up the northeast coast on Teesside.

Siemens Gamesa is the product of the merger of the wind power operations of the German engineering giant with the dedicated renewables firm Gamesa in 2016, the same year that Gamesa’s investment in the wind turbine factory in Hull went into operation.

The new investment adds 41,600 square metres — about the size of six football pitches — to take the existing facility, which has already produced 1500 blades in the past five years, up to 77,600 square metres.

“The rapid development of the offshore wind industry and continued, strong, long-term support provided by the UK government for offshore wind, has enabled us to power ahead with confidence when making these plans” said Marc Becker, chief executive of the offshore business unit of Siemens Gamesa.

It will be the first investment in the UK by GRI, a business created 13 years ago in the Basque region of Spain. It has already expanded manufacturing facilities of towers and their flanges securing them to their foundations to eight countries.

Jon Riberas, chief executive of GRI, said the UK market was “increasingly demanding and constantly evolving.”

Today’s news comes weeks after it was reported that the South Korean manufacturer SeAH is to create 750 jobs with the construction of a facility to build monopiles, the foundation columns for offshore wind turbines, on the Able Marine Energy Park site.

Business Matters Magazine

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