MHI Vestas’ New Isle Of Wight Investment To Support 1,100 New Jobs & Millions In Economic Benefits

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One of the world’s leading offshore wind turbine manufacturers, MHI Vestas, announced on Tuesday that the first of two new wind turbine blade molds had arrived at the company’s factory in the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, in a move that will serve to help support 1,100 new jobs at the factory and £42 million worth of additional economic benefit per year to the regional economy.

The Isle of Wight has, for MHI Vestas, been a large part of the company’s priorities over the last year. The company’s West Medina Mills blade production factory, which was originally set up to serially produce 80-meter blades for the company’s V164-8.0 MW offshore wind turbines, was the focus of an announcement made in September which saw MHI Vestas transfer its testing related activities from West Medina Mills to the nearby St. Cross facility on the Isle of Wight. This opened the door for the company to expand its blade production operations at West Medina Mills.

“Our facilities on the Isle of Wight are an important part of our global footprint, and the relocation of some of our activities on the island to make way for future offshore wind expansion underlines our long-term commitment to the community and the growth of the UK wind energy sector,” said John Rimmer, Vestas Technology UK Managing Director at the time.

At the time of the announcement in September, MHI Vestas employed 130 people across the Isle of Wight.

Only a month later, MHI Vestas announced the beginning of a major recruiting campaign for the Isle of Wight blade production factory which hoped to add hundreds of additional employees over the following weeks.

“Today marks the start of an ambitious program to increase the capacity of our blade production facility at the West Medina Mills on the Isle of Wight,” said Production Director for MHI Vestas Blades UK, James Luter, at the time. “We are looking for people with the right attitude, a good work ethic, and who want to be part of something historic. Building the world’s largest serially-produced wind turbine blades right here on the island, we are helping to move the world toward clean energy, so we can’t wait to welcome our new employees who join us on this journey.”

By this point, more than 300 people were already employed at the blade manufacturing facility.

Skip ahead one more month, and MHI Vestas announced this week that a new blade mold had arrived at the West Medina Mills factory, the first of two blades which, when both are operational, are expected to support 1,100 new jobs — direct, indirect, and induced — and £42 million worth of additional economic benefit per year to the regional economy. Blade production could begin as early as January 2019.

“This expansion effort is one of the most ambitious blade initiatives we have ever undertaken,” said MHI Vestas VP of Blades, Bo Jensen. “In close cooperation with the Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight College and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, our training and certification programs are paving the way for the next generation of offshore wind specialists. This development of green energy manufacturing skills will not only benefit MHI Vestas but will also serve to elevate the regional composites industry as well.”

“Among all the uncertainty these days, it’s quite a remarkable image: a massive blade mould comes into the UK with hundreds of new employees readying themselves for years of serial production,” added MHI Vestas UK Country Manager, Julian Brown. “It’s offshore wind at its finest, actually – large-scale manufacturing, sustainable jobs, considerable economic benefit to local communities, and a green energy source driving the UK toward a carbon-free future.”

An economic impact analysis was conducted by BVG Associates for MHI Vestas and concluded that, in addition to 380 new direct jobs at the Isle of Wight blade factor, and the paint and logistics facility at Fawley, the company’s expansion of the West Medina Mills factory will result in an additional 720 indirect and induced jobs being added. The same analysis concluded that the expansion efforts will create £42 million of additional value-add per year to the regional economy when the second mold is fully operational.

“The UK is the global home of offshore wind, housing the world’s largest offshore wind farm, with over 6% of our home-grown electricity coming from clean wind power,” said the UK’s Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry. “This Offshore Wind Week, MHI Vestas is contributing to this success story, creating hundreds of new skilled jobs and driving regional growth with £42 million of additional economic benefit expected. As part of our modern Industrial Strategy we’re putting the finishing touches to our Offshore Wind Sector Deal to create the right business conditions to export this expertise around the world to ensure this sector goes from strength to strength.”

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Joshua S Hill

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