GE Will Build Giant Wind Turbine Blades in Northeast England

GE Renewable Energy will create as many as 750 new jobs in northeast England with a new factory that will make hundreds of giant blades destined for wind turbines in the North Sea.

The new facility, located in Teesside, is set to open and begin production in 2023, the company said in a statement.

The GE announcement was made on the same day the U.K. government confirmed plans to invest 95 million pounds ($132 million) to create two dedicated offshore wind ports in Teesside and on the Humber, an estuary also on the U.K.’s northeast coast.

The burst of activity in the region will likely help economic goals set out last week by U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. Sunak said he wanted to help to boost investment in deprived areas in the north of England, while also putting the U.K. on a path to eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The move also comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is putting increasing pressure on the industry to bring more of its supply chain into Britain. The U.K. has more turbines installed at sea than any other country in the world.

GE Will Build Giant Wind Turbine Blades in Northeast England

Johnson has set a target to quadruple offshore wind capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2030, and last week Sunak announced that Humber and Teesside would become two of eight new freeports -- low-tariff business zones being created to stimulate trade and investment in the wake of Brexit and the coronavirus crisis.

“During the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago, wind powered the sails of ships from the Humber and Teesside, trading goods around the world,” Johnson said, according to a statement released by the government. “Now, the Humber and Teesside will put the wind in the sails of our new green industrial revolution.”

The GE factory will produce blades that are each about the same length as a soccer field. Those blades will then be slotted into GE’s skyscraper sized Haliade-X turbines that are being used for the Dogger Bank project in the North Sea that’s being developed by SSE Plc and Equinor ASA. When completed in 2026, Dogger Bank will be the largest offshore wind farm in the U.K. and will be capable of producing enough electricity to supply 5% of the nation’s demand.

GE declined to disclose the value of its investment and said terms of financing were still being decided.

“This new plant will contribute to the development of an industrial cluster dedicated to offshore wind in the northeast of England,” said Jerome Pecresse, president and chief executive officer of GE Renewable Energy.

Building the factory in the U.K. has long been a part of the company’s negotiations with the developers SSE and Equinor, Pecresse said in an interview. The facility may be used for both offshore wind farms in the U.K. and potentially to export to Europe as well.

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