Will Hull be the capital of the UK’s wind industry?

Posted on 1 Apr 2011 by The Manufacturer

Siemens could create about 800 jobs in Hull if its project for a £80m turbine manufacturing plant on Alexandra Dock is approved, and Vestas may not be far behind.

The factory, which could be fully operational by 2013, will see the manufacture of 5,000 turbines for the offshore farms in the North Sea.

Although this might be completed by around 2024, Siemens has revealed that it has bigger plans in mind for the region, as work on the service and maintenance of the turbines will continue in Hull until at least 2049.

Through the supply chain, the project could generate thousands of local jobs.

Siemens executive Dan McGrail, who revealed to the Hull Daily Mail that most of the jobs will go to locals, said: “We don’t just build the turbines, we service them and carry out operations and maintenance.
This will last the lifetime of the turbines. This is a significant investment for us. It is one of the biggest projects we have ever undertaken in terms of construction.”

The announcement by Siemens about its long-term commitment to Hull was welcomed throughout the area.

Matt Jukes, port director at Associated British Ports, which owns Alexandra Dock, said he “aspires” to have “a more binding agreement” with Siemens in the summer. “This is a significant investment for us and Siemens, so in that respect we hope this will be the start of a very long relationship,” he added.

Siemens’ move is also expected to offer young people in the area valuable job opportunities, as local companies are already getting ready to reap the benefits of this investment in the wind sector.

In the meanwhile, another turbines manufacturer is considering opening a facility in Hull. Danish company Vestas announced this week it has plans to build a factory on the North Sea, which would result in the creation of hundreds of jobs.

The plant would be used to assemble the largest turbines in the world, with 80-metre blades and the ability to produce seven megawatts of energy.

Speaking to the local newpaper, Vestas’ spokesman Michael Holm said: “This turbine is designed for the North Sea and we will need a coastal site due to the size of the machines. We certainly cannot rule out Hull as a possible location and we know the infrastructure is in place. When you have blades which are 80 metres long, you need a lot of space and the right infrastructure.”

ABP’s director Matt Jukes said there is room for a second turbine factory, but that it might not be ready in time to take advantage of the Round Three offshore wind farms, which would begin constructing 5,000 turbines around UK coasts in 2014.