What is now emerging – yet to register in London’s metropolitan consciousness – is the first evidence of economic and social renaissance. A North Sea energy boom has broken the vicious cycle. “We hit bottom four or five years ago. It is frustrating to hear talk of decline because now we are really turning around. We have plans to build 10,000 new homes,” said Philip Jackson, head of the North East Lincolnshire Council in Grimsby. The revival resembles the early stages of the oil and gas boom around Aberdeen in the 1970s after the discovery of the Forties. This time it is renewable energy. Grimsby has become the nerve centre for the UK’s thriving offshore wind industry. Hull across the Humber hosts a Siemens Gamesa blade factory for wind turbines, the biggest manufacturing plant built in Britain this century. The company is currently adding a second production line to meet demand. “Green energy is going to be huge. There will be jobs for 20 years or more,” said Mr Jackson. The Danish group Ørsted has based its gleaming new hub beneath the Dock Tower. The control room is like a military logistics centre with rows of screens, measuring the wind speed, yaw angle, rotor RPM, and so forth, of every turbine 75 miles out in the North Sea. The company employs 170 staff in Grimsby with a further 500 contractors. “When we advertised for six apprentices we got a thousand applicants,” said Darren Ramshaw, the regional head of operations. The local one-man caterer that supplies the Ørsted canteen – Deli-licious – has expanded to twenty people. The hub manages the Hornsea 1 wind farm, the biggest offshore cluster on the planet. The array is being erected at a staggering pace, one giant turbine every couple of days. Installation out at sea is lightning fast. “They put up the tower, the nacelle, and blades, in a single day. The team switches it on the next day,” said Matthew Wright, Ørsted’s UK managing-director. Hornsea 1 began in April and will be finished later this Autumn with 174 turbines providing 1.2 gigawatts (GW), comparable to a large nuclear reactor but built in a fraction of the time. Hornsea 2, 3, and 4, are lined up for the early 2020s. Together they could potentially produce 6.2GW. Ørsted has other operations at Race Bank a little further south, as has Equinor. Innogy is building Triton Knoll nearby. The scale is huge and it all requires an army of skilled workers.
Telegraph 1st Sept 2019 read more »