Opportunity knocks as the Humber wins global race

Siemens' and ABP's confirmation this week that they will be investing £310 million in wind turbine production and installation facilities in the Humber further boosts the UK's position as one of the best places to invest in offshore wind in the world.

23 April 2014

Offshore wind turbines

The benefits for the economy should not be underestimated and this is a welcome rebuttal to those who question whether the UK has what it takes to seize the opportunities presented by our now burgeoning offshore wind industry.

Green Port Hull's success is a testimony to the power of cross-party working at the national and local level and the power of civic leadership in translating high ambitions into reality on the ground.

Along with helping tackling the nation's 'energy trilemma' - rising prices, tough carbon reduction targets and supporting a sustainable and secure energy supply - the effects will be transformative in Yorkshire and the Humber. A region that now stands tall, proud to have won a global race that will provide a bedrock for truly sustainable future prosperity as a destination for high-quality jobs and growth, long into the 21st century.

For the East Riding this won't just be about the 1,000 jobs that will be created by this combined investment alone, which will in any event continue to grow. It will be the potential for the many thousands more jobs that will be generated by the supply chain to provide wind turbine components.

Offshore wind is a global industry, so with a critical mass now committed to manufacturing in the UK, the opportunities for the Humber to export to nations across Europe, America and Asia, are endless.

The Humber is playing its part in an exciting time for the future of offshore wind. While there has been rapid growth - with offshore wind power capacity doubling in the last two years and already providing the equivalent of around 2.7 million homes with electricity - it is only now that the industry is starting to come of age. 

This is in part because of greater investor certainty afforded by Government policy following the conclusion of Electricity Market Reform and the passing of the Energy Act. However, it is also because the industry is maturing quickly, with greater exploration, research and understanding resulting in the identification of the most viable sites and the more effective allocation of resources to unlock the UK's potential.

The Crown Estate also has a role to play as a major local landowner around the Humber and manager of the UK seabed, investing to de-risk the planning process alongside offshore wind developers across the UK and those with wind farms in serviceable proximity to the Green Port site.

Given the timescales involved in bringing forward new schemes, investment decisions like these show that the industry is now thinking bigger and bolder than the Government's current target to see between 8 and 15 GW delivered by 2020. In fact, many in the industry envision continued growth from the current 3.6 GW in operation to about 10-12 GW by 2020, with further growth beyond. This represents a sector growing by a remarkable 15% year-on-year over the decade and an investment of over £60 billion by industry. Hull and the Humber is now perfectly positioned to ensure that a significant proportion of this investment will flow through its economy.

Hull has always benefited from a busy port in shipping and passenger travel, but like many of our industrial cities has also struggled with job losses and social deprivation as 'old industry' has declined. This major announcement has shown what collaboration between business, communities and local and national government can achieve, making the most of its natural advantages, implementing the latest technology and paving a bold and visionary future for this city and its neighbours.