A PLAN to create a £250,000 training facility in Grimsby – capable of equipping 1,500 wind technicians a year with vital skills to take offshore – has been revealed.
Town firm Blackrow Engineering is spearheading the proposal, with a replica tower to provide real-life work conditions at the heart of the proposal.
Several jobs would also be created in assessment and administration, as well as providing a further boost to the hotel and leisure economy.
Industry anticipates huge demand for technicians to service the thousands of turbines to be erected in the southern North Sea and beyond in the next decade. To help meet it, Blackrow has formed a strategic partnership with Norwegian specialist AAK – a pioneer of safe work at height.
It comes in a week that Dong Energy has confirmed it will start construction of the £800 million Westermost Rough wind farm off the East Yorkshire coast early next year, and further stages in the Hornsea Round Three consenting programme were announced.
And with the £10 million of Regional Growth Fund money ring-fenced for renewables on the South Bank to be officially opened next week, it is a further statement of intent from the private sector.
Barry Taylor, commercial director at Blackrow, launched the plan – with a March 2014 completion desire – before key stakeholders at the company’s substantial base on South Humberside Industrial Estate.
He was joined by AAK chief executive Torgeir Nærø and business development director Leif Røv. Both work closely with energy giants in Scandinavia’s internationally-renowned oil and gas sector.
Mr Taylor said: “We have established a partnership with a clear leader in working at height, safety and rescue and many other skills. We have the ambition, we now have a joint collaboration, which means we have the competency and the experience. It is just about designing the service now.”
Companies Centrica, Siemens, RES and Windpower Support were joined by North East Lincolnshire Council, Grimsby Institute, E-Factor, Team Humber Marine Alliance and representatives of Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, as input and support was sought for the plan.
Mr Taylor added: “We don’t want to send technicians to Cumbria, Newcastle, Lowestoft or London, we want to keep them here. It saves money, it saves time, and further strengthens the Humber’s case. We want to set the benchmark for industry training.
“It may sound like a dream, but why not? We have the skills, we have the experience. We would like it to be an icon for the town, to make sure it is understood that Grimsby is the place to come for offshore wind operations and maintenance, and operations and maintenance training. We want to capture the current and future market needs.”
The plan has been welcomed in the town.
Roger Smith, vice-chairman of Grimsby Renewables Partnership, said: “I think this would be tremendous coup for the town.
“We could get all the interested parties involved to provide a high-tech training facility. There is no doubt that Grimsby is recognised as the place to be.”
Kurt Christensen, managing director of Grimsby-based Windpower Support, said: “This is a project that will show the area’s young people that they can become technicians. It has to be the Rolls Royce of its field, but I think it can be done.”