The government’s decision not to cut £60m funding to overhaul UK ports is welcome news for the UK’s stuttering wind turbine manufacturing industry.
The package will see ports, mainly along England’s North sea coast, compete for a share of cash in a bid to transform themselves into sites able to manage UK offshore wind manufacturing needs.
Following fears that a cancellation of the loan would spark an exodus of offshore investors, the decision to press ahead was immediately vindicated when GE and Siemens reaffirmed their commitment to invest in new offshore wind manufacturing plants and Spanish firm Gamesa pledged to invest £133 million in the UK over the next three years. Gamesa plans to create a centre for offshore technology and a turbine blade manufacturing plant could generate more than 1000 jobs.
In a speech yesterday at the London School of Economics, energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne hailed the ports funding as a powerful statement of intent and claimed that it underlined the government’s commitment to establishing the UK as a market leader in offshore wind. It also underlines the importance of government leading the way.
As The Engineer has long argued, government has a vital role to play in creating the enthusiasm and climate for investment, it’s not enough to stand back and wait for private investors to step in. Hopefully the enthusiasm now surrounding the UK’s offshore wind sector will act as a potent reminder of the value of state backing for many years to come.