Wind to blow new life into UK manufacturing

Posted on 21 Jul 2008 by The Manufacturer

The world’s largest wind turbine is to be unveiled today on the North-east coast amid calls across the manufacturing industry to look to renewable energy to revitalise the sector.

It is hoped that the installation, ten times taller than the Angel of the North, at the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC), Blyth, will become a beacon of inspiration to manufacturers – to both utilise renewable energy forms and develop new technology to harness it. The project has been undertaken by US firm Clipper Wind, with UK firms being encouraged to follow its lead.

Malcolm Wicks, Minister for Energy, will attend the unveiling. He said: “The North-east already has a wealth of skills and experience in the manufacturing sector to diversify in to the green energy market. NaREC is setting a fantastic example and I hope many other manufacturing companies will recognise the opportunities a shift to a low-carbon economy will create.”

Mr Wicks is set to announce that renewable energy development could bring 30,000 jobs and £3 billion investment to the North-east in coming years. His sentiment has found support in many guises. Margaret Fay, of One NorthEast, said: “We are well placed to spearhead the UK’s development of off-shore wind farms. The region has the skills, the ready-made sites along the river for companies to utilise, and public sector research and development support to turn the region into a European hub for the fabrication, assembly and delivery of off-shore wind turbines.”

Last week Nick Brayshaw, chair of Barclays manufacturing strategy board, told The Manufacturer that UK firms should be looking to channel world-leading development expertise, displayed in areas like motor sport, into renewable energy technology.

“There’s a massive opportunity to create a world class environmental sector in the UK,” said Brayshaw. “I think one of the characteristics of UK engineering is our innovative capability and I’d love to see the emergence of world beating technologies here in the UK that we can sell on a global scale.”

The unveiling coincides with the announcement of a new pressure group called Green New Deal who which will bring together environmentalists, economists and unions to lobby the government over issues such as support for the development of renewable energy and the curtail of power held by the biggest banking groups. Members of Green New Deal include a former director of Friends of the Earth and the Guardian newspaper’s economics editor.