Trading Kingdoms: Continued investment bodes well for UK wind energy sector

Danish energy giant DONG will invest £6bn (60 billion kroner) in the UK offshore wind sector over the next four years, providing a boost to the renewable energy industry at a critical time when the government is cutting subsidies.

First Siemens, now DONG
Siemens’ £310m investment in a new wind turbine factory in Hull allowed the offshore wind sector to secure a foothold in the Humber. DONG Energy’s recent move will add to the pipeline of investment, which is critical for the survival of the industry and the development of an offshore wind supply chain in the Humber region. This in turn creates a demand for enhanced skills to support the developing industry cluster.

This sustained investment is particularly good news for the region, but also presents a challenge to an area that has suffered from a lack of skilled workers in recent years.

One consequence of the shortage of skills is the constraint placed on the development of high value-added sectors locally. To plug this gap, the University of Hull now offers a master’s course focused on the renewable energy sector, and the university is always seeking to link its research with the latest advancements in the industry.

College opening centre
Hull College has also opened a Digital and Green Energy Centre to provide additional skills support for local companies who are looking for growth opportunities in the renewable energy sectors.

Furthermore, £11m has been invested in the new University Technical College in Scunthorpe, which specialises in engineering and renewable energy. By emphasising not only the academic curriculum, but also practical work in the field with companies, the college is perfectly placed to provide the highly-skilled workforce that the knowledge-intensive industry cluster demands.

Optimism for future
The Hull and wider Humber region has been in the doldrums since the decline of local industry in the 1980s, but DONG’s investment provides cause for optimism in the future. The increasing development of skills will help to ensure that the economic success is sustained, creating a knowledge-intensive industry cluster to support the growth of the UK renewable energy industry.

Mariano A Davies