Siemens Hull produces first giant wind turbine blade

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 1 Dec 2016

The first completed "Made in Hull" turbine blade is being unveiled today at the city's Siemens offshore wind factory.

The 75-metre blade is due to be unveiled by business and energy secretary Greg Clark during a visit to the £310m Green Port Hull development.

It will be the first of hundreds to be manufactured in Hull every year and marks a major milestone at the facility.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Clark said: "Hull has established itself as an important manufacturing and engineering centre for this innovative and exciting new industry.

"In the coming years the new offshore wind projects that this factory will supply could generate enough clean electricity to power over three million homes and businesses all with wind turbine blades produced by the dedicated and highly skilled Siemens workforce right here in Hull."

Around 700 people already work at the site with 96 per cent living within a 30-mile radius of Hull.

Among them is 23-year-old Jamie Purdue, a packing operative from east Hull.

He said: "It's a great place to work and I feel very proud to be part of the team here.

"It's good for Hull to be known as the place where these blades are being made. It shows what the city can do."

Finbarr Dowling, Siemens' Hull project director, said: "Most of the people here are actually from Hull itself which is fantastic.

"We now have a world-class product being made in Hull by Hull people."

Siemens worker Fiona Wright from Hedon working on one of the giant blades.

The blades are made from balsa wood and fibre glass reinforced with epoxy resign.

"It's really art and craft on a massive scale," said Mr Dowling.

Along with blades starting to roll off the production line, the waterfront at Alexandra Dock is also being transformed with the assembly of huge 90-metre tall wind turbine towers destined for the North Sea.

Siemens' UK chief executive Juergen Maier said: "Here in Hull we are witnessing probably the best example of industrial strategy in action we have in the UK today creating new, local, skilled jobs, sustainable growth and the latest renewable technology, benefiting the UK economy and our society."

"One of the greatest challenges we have is to increase productivity in the UK and generate growth while de-carbonising our energy supply and reducing emissions to achieve a sustainable energy mix.

Mr Maier said he hoped the new Hull plant would be "a catalyst for further significant investments by our suppliers, customers and the industry at large".

He said: "Most of all this new factory signals a positive future for manufacturing in this country. This is a world-class facility that generates real value for the local community and the UK economy."

City council leader Steve Brady said: "With this world-class facility coming fully into production, Hull will be firmly at the centre of a new industrial era.

"Importantly, hundreds of local people will have high-quality employment within a company with a global reputation for manufacturing and technological excellence."

Workers, most employed from Hull and the region, on the Siemens workshop.

The first blades manufactured will be used at Dong Energy’s Race Bank offshore wind farm, which is being built out of Dong Energy's construction base on Port of Grimsby East. The installation of the blades and the rest of the turbines is on track to start up in summer 2017.

Brent Cheshire, Dong Energy’s UK country chairman, said: “Dong Energy is absolutely committed to investing in the UK so I’m delighted we will be the first company to use Siemens blades manufactured right here in Hull. The opening of this Siemens blade factory is another positive step forward for the UK supply chain.

“Race Bank is a significant project capable of powering over half a million homes a year and is being constructed from our base in Grimsby. To have blades manufactured down the road in Hull really underlines the great success story of offshore wind in this country.”

Approximately two thirds - around 180 - of the blades at Race Bank will come from the Siemens facility in Hull. The wind farm is expected to be fully operational in 2018.

RenewableUK’s chief executive, Hugh McNeal was part of the Department for Energy and Climate Change team that helped in Government efforts to land the plant.

At the event today, he said: “Innovative, large-scale manufacturing for Britain’s offshore wind industry, as Siemens are doing here in Hull, is a key part of our nation’s modern industrial strategy.

“It’s great to see a major international company building on Yorkshire’s proud manufacturing history.  Siemens is one of many trailblazers investing in this sector right across the UK. Offshore wind developers are committed to maximising the amount of locally-made kit in their projects, to ensure that we all reap the economic benefits of renewable energy – including opportunities to export, capitalising on Britain’s global lead in offshore wind.

“The offshore wind industry is bringing well over £20 billion in investment to the UK over the course of this decade, creating thousands of new jobs, from apprentices taking their first steps into high-tech, to experienced workers making the transition from the oil and gas sector into renewables”. 

Siemens Hull blade facts:

  • The wind turbine blades now being made in Hull are 75 metres long.
  • They are the world's largest fibreglass component cast in one piece.
  • Each blade is manufactured from glass fibre reinforced epoxy resin and balsa wood.
  • There are no seams or glued joints and no adhesive, all of which saves weight.
  • The finishing touches to each blade involve a process of sanding, grinding and laminating to remove any imperfections.

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