Whitehall renewable energy support is 'pitiful'

posted by Jonathan Owen
22 November 2018

More than 400 jobs will be created in the UK supply chain as a result of expansion plans by offshore wind company MHI Vestas, the company has announced.

A new mould for making wind turbine blades has arrived at the company’s factory in the Isle of Wight and preparations are now underway to increase its production of 80-metre long blades for offshore wind turbines by January next year.

The move will lead to 380 new jobs at its Isle of Wight factory and paint and logistics facility, with an estimated 720 jobs in the local economy, of which over 400 will be in the supply chain.

Once the new mould is fully operational, the expansion in production will result in a £42m-a-year boost to the regional economy, according to an economic impact analysis conducted for the company by renewable energy consultancy BVG Associates.

Julian Brown, MHI Vestas’ UK country manager, said: “Among all the uncertainty these days, it’s quite a remarkable image: a massive blade mould comes into the UK with hundreds of new employees readying themselves for years of serial production. It’s offshore wind at its finest, actually – large-scale manufacturing, sustainable jobs, considerable economic benefit to local communities, and a green energy source driving the UK toward a carbon-free future.”

Claire Perry, energy and clean growth minister, welcomed the announcement: “The UK is the global home of offshore wind, housing the world’s largest offshore wind farm, with over 6% of our homegrown electricity coming from clean wind power...MHI Vestas is contributing to this success story, creating hundreds of new skilled jobs and driving regional growth.”

And Bob Seely, Isle of Wight MP, said: “This expansion is great news and will back long-term economic growth on the island for years to come.”

This comes as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced it will invest £60m a year in renewable energy schemes in 2023-24 and 2024-25.

The funding will be made available in the next “contracts for difference” auction – in which offshore wind farms will be among the technologies able to bid for contracts that pay them a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate.

However, environmental campaigners hit out at what they described as a “pitiful sum” of money being made available by the government.

Kate Blagojevic, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, commented: “They promised over half a billion pounds in investment, that was widely expected to be divvied up and made available in sizeable chunks over the next few years.”

She added: “But this first chunk is a pitiful sum that could end up limiting UK export potential and jeopardising our climate goals.”

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