Mitsubishi, new player in UK offshore wind power market

Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe signs MOU signalling intention to invest up to £100 million in UK wind turbine R&D project. Up to 200 highly skilled jobs to be created by 2014. Government announces further £18.5 million grant to fund offshore wind energy test site at Narec in Blyth.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband signed a non binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe Ltd (MPSE). The company intends to invest up to £100 million in an offshore wind turbine project in the UK. This will create up to 200 highly skilled jobs.

The Government is working with MPSE, and is intending to provide grants of up to £30 million to support the project. This follows on from extensive work with MPSE and discussions that the company had with Lord Mandelson and Ed Miliband at the Global Investors conference hosted by the Prime Minister in London on Monday arranged by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

This project will be the first step towards the production of wind turbines for the next generation of offshore wind farms. By working closely with Mitsubishi, the UK is a strong contender to be a manufacturing base for Mitsubishi in the future, which could create up to 1,500 new jobs.

The UK is leading the way in offshore wind. Today’s announcement demonstrates both the Government and private sector commitment to developing the industry in the UK. Mitsubishi will be working closely with UK based companies and organisations to develop the turbines needed for the next generation of offshore wind farms.

Today Lord Mandelson and Ed Miliband also announced new funding of £18.5 million for an offshore wind test site in the North East of England.

The site, off the coast near the New and Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth, will act as a technology demonstration and development platform for the next generation of large multi-megawatt offshore wind turbines. It also complements Government support for a blade test facility in the North East that will enable the testing of blades up to 100m in length. These world-leading testing facilities will make the UK a prime location for companies such as Mitsubishi.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: ‘Mitsubishi’s investment in wind turbine R&D and the creation of 200 highly skilled jobs is great news for our future plans in low carbon, high technology industries. The UK is now well placed to manufacture the turbines needed for the next generation of offshore wind farms. We will continue to work with Mitsubishi to secure production in the UK.

“I’m delighted that we are also supporting the wind test site in the North East. Coming on top of funding for Narec announced in the Pre-Budget Report, it further strengthens the North East’s position as a leader in the offshore wind farm sector.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: ‘This decision by Mitsubishi is a sign that the UK is starting to turn its leadership in offshore wind generation into leadership in manufacturing. We have the wind resource and we now have an industry that is really starting to grow. This is possible because of our domestic market and our commitment to support companies that locate here. It is another step to turning Britain into a leading green manufacturing centre.”

Senior Executive Vice President Mr Ichiro Fukue and MPSE CEO Mr Akio Fukui said: “Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe is delighted to be working in partnership with the UK Government to create this exciting opportunity for the development of world-class offshore wind technology in the UK. MHI’s Ship Building division is interested in entering the offshore wind installation and operation and maintenance vessel market. We have been working with UKTI for some time and we look forward to further growing our offshore wind business with UK-based partner and supply chain businesses from 2010, bringing much needed competition into the offshore wind turbine supply market, and economic benefit to the UK”