At the foot of the disused Fawley power station on the Hampshire coast, giant wind turbine blades lie on the sand like the fins of some strange beached sea mammal. The site of what was once one of the UK’s most polluting power plants is now a waiting area for turbine blades, before they join the growing number of windfarms off the British coast. More than 1,000 of these pieces of precision-designed aerodynamic steel, each about 80 metres long, have been shipped across the water from a factory on the Isle of Wight. Owned by Danish energy giant MHI Vestas, it employs almost 700 people on the island and usually produces seven blades a week. The latest batch are destined for the Seagreen project, the largest offshore windfarm under development in Scotland, as part of the vast supply chain that is set to power a green jobs boom across the country. The UK has already installed almost 10 gigawatts of wind power capacity offshore, enough to power the equivalent of about 7 million homes. Boris Johnson set out plans last year to quadruple that capacity, and build enough giant turbines to power every home in the UK cleanly by 2030. Vestas began producing components for turbines on the Isle of Wight 20 years ago, and is now planning to open a new facility in the north-east of England, where it may employ up to 2,000 skilled workers. It is a beacon for the way this renewable energy source can power a green economic revolution across the regions. But as ambitions ramp up, concerns have grown that foreign companies will be first in line to benefit, while homegrown businesses miss out.
Observer 4th Sept 2021 read more »