North wind power firms to get £3m cash boost
A MULTI-MILLION pound cash injection may help establish the North East as a global centre for wind power with a Welsh company already saying it wants to come to the region and create hundreds of jobs.
A raft of North East firms yesterday learned they are to benefit from £3m of public money set aside to help the region develop world-leading skills in wind power generation.
Billingham-based developer and ship-breaker Able UK has joined forces with Welsh firm Xanthus Energy to open a factory in the region.
On Tyneside, McNulty Offshore is working with Newcastle University, US wind power firm Clipper and engineering giant Parsons Brinckerhoff and a second team of scientists at Newcastle University is working with Huddersfield-based David Brown Gear Systems to make the bearings in turbine gear boxes more reliable.
Xanthus, which makes foundations for offshore turbines, said the North East was the “obvious lead location” for renewable energy investment particularly with plans to site a massive wind farm off the coast at Dogger Bank, and 1,000 turbines in the North Sea. Managing director Lewis Lack said: “We would not be building it here if we did not think the region was leading the way. We are at the stage were we can develop the foundations and then need to build a full scale demonstration, and so the funding is essential.
He said it was too early to say where a plant employing up to 300 would be sited, but there would be a need when turbines were installed at sea in a few years.
The Northern Wind Innovation Programme (NWIP) yesterday announced the names of companies participating in newly formed consortia set to benefit from a share of the £3m. A spokesman said: “From almost 30 applications received, 10 consortia made up of 38 UK companies were selected against strict technical and economic criteria. They all demonstrated excellent standards in innovation.”
NWIP is a two year project funded through the Northern Way Partnership and delivered by NaREC in Blyth and Envirolink Northwest which aims to boost the offshore wind sector industry working with industry and universities.
NAREC, the New and Renewable Energy Centre, which has worked with NWIP on the programmes said: “These companies have all shown an interest in projects which could help make the region a leader in wind turbine technology.”
The North East, with its history of heavy engineering and marine engineering and its manufacturing facilities on the banks of its rivers, is well-positioned to become a centre for the manufacture of wind turbines.