Bosses dash hopes of wind turbine manufacturing in the east

Andrew Fox from Areva Wind at the EEEGR summer conference

Andrew Fox from Areva Wind at the EEEGR summer conference - Credit: Archant

Top bosses have poured cold water on hopes that East Anglia could become a hub for wind turbine manufacturing.

Leaders from three international energy companies said the region's location, and its road and port infrastructure, meant it was not best placed to provide a cost-effective wind turbine production plant compared to Humberside or Scotland.

But representatives from Areva, Alstom Wind, and RE Power, said they were attracted to the 'brain power' in the Norfolk and Suffolk supply chain, which would be best used delivering operation and maintenance services to the giant wind farm projects off the east coast.

The claims came yesterday at the East of England Energy Group's conference, which featured key speeches on a Suffolk energy from waste plant, the challenges facing energy security, and the role of fracking in the Southern North Sea.

But it was the final offshore wind panel discussion with Andrew Compton of Alstom Wind, Ranjit Mene of RE Power and Andrew Fox of Areva, which dealt a blow to the prospect of creating a manufacturing facility in the region.

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Mr Fox, Areva's business relationship manager UK, said the logistics of moving manufactured products from the east and towards Scotland and Yorkshire was not easy – although the labour cost of building wind turbine blades in East Anglia might prove competitive.

Meanwhile, Mr Mene, head of UK offshore sales at RE Power, said a major investment in port development at Great Yarmouth would be needed if investors were to be persuaded.

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But Mr Compton, strategic account manager at Alstom Wind, said the east was better place delivering operation and maintenance services.

He said: 'Operation and maintenance should not be seen as a second fix to manufacturing. We see this as being a huge value stream for us. But building wind turbines in the east? I don't think so.'

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