OWC17: How we're building a 'transatlantic offshore wind bridge with the Humber at the heart'

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 3 May 2017

MORE than 200 delegates have heard of the tremendous strides being taken in offshore wind – on a local and international stage – as a huge Humber conference opened.

Offshore Wind Connections launched at Bridlington Spa, with local, regional, national and international plaudits lapping up at a special reception ahead of the conference proper.

A top US delegate described the area as leading in the UK, and a key inspiration for what is trying to be achieved stateside, while prospering entrepreneurs were heralded by the national trade body identifying just what the Energy Estuary has been achieved. 

Host, Team Humber Marine Alliance chairman and chief executive Mark O’Reilly, welcomed a healthy crowd to the evening welcome reception, enthusing about what lies ahead, within the conference and the industry too. He said: “We have a really good day lined up tomorrow. We have 350 delegates coming, not just from the Humber, but internationally.

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SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP: The US delegation at OWC 2017. Picture: Simon Kench.

“In the early days of this event, the majority of delegates were from Humber companies trying to find a way in the industry. Now the delegates here are from the UK and a dozen other countries throughout Europe and the US too.

“We have had an interesting few days. We have built a special bond up with the US, with five trade delegations since last year, and particularly with New Bedford. There is an exciting journey ahead.

“Yesterday we were in Grimsby, telling the story of how it has gone from predominantly a fishing port and transformed into a leading offshore wind operations and maintenance hub in the world, one may argue. We had a tour around E.on and Dong, looked at the investment and looked at the training facilities at HCF Catch and at UTC, and how the skills have developed over the years.

“Today we have had a wonderful tour around Green Port Hull. It was a bit of a dream not so many years ago, yet today – a month since I last visited – there were two jack-up vessels, 16 towers, vessels. It has become so real, and the Humber is a real hub, something we saw in Bremerhaven (Germany) five or six years ago is now here.

“It is fantastic, and we are still at the very start of our journey, we believe.”

Turning back to the US delegation, and Mayor of the City of New Bedford, Jon Mitchell, Mr O’Reilly said: “We are delighted we can start to work with partners in other parts of the world.

“We are shortly going to sign a strategic partnership with New Bedford, a significant strengthening of that relationship. Yesterday a sister status relationship was signed between New Bedford and Grimsby. Grimsby also has a twinning with Bremerhaven. Relationships are building.

“We have a transatlantic offshore wind bridge – you heard it heard first – for the UK, not just the Humber. We have a lot to offer the US.”  

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP: Heads of terms are signed by key parties, with Mayor of New Bedford, Jon R Mitchell and Team Humber Marine Alliance chairman and chief executive, Mark O'Reilly third and fourth right, respectively. Pictures: Simon Kench.

Mr Mitchell told how the “straggling US” will not be straggling for much longer.

“We are here to continue our journey, a journey that the Humber region has been leading here in the UK toward being the centre of the offshore wind industry. On the East Coast of the the US, that’s the aspiration we have. We take tremendous inspiration from the way things are playing out here, for sure.”

Welcoming guests to East Riding's Bridlington Spa, Cllr Richard Burton enthused about the industry that has emerged on the Humber, the £25 million Green Port Hull Fund and Hull's City of Culture status.

Humberbusiness.com is an official media partner of Offshore Wind Connections 2017.

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