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Americans collaborating with Humber region on 'winds of change' opportunities

The Humber will become a showcase for the global offshore wind industry next week when it welcomes American politicians to its shores, including leading wind power advocates.

THMA chairman Mark O’Reilly
THMA chairman Mark O’Reilly

As the US's eastern seaboard gears up for the race to meet tough renewable energy targets, the US delegation has chosen the Humber as its focus for learning.

They will visit key businesses and organisations in Hull, Grimsby and Scunthorpe on September 21 and 22 to see the immense progress being made in developing offshore wind power, the socio-economic impact and the collaboration that has made it possible. 

The itinerary includes: a port tour of Hull, Lord Mayor's reception, a session at the University of Hull with industry, academic and local authority leaders and, on the south bank, visits to Dong Energy, E.ON, HCF CATCH and the Humber UTC.

The visit is being organised by Team Humber Marine Alliance (THMA), whose chairman and chief executive, Mark O'Reilly, said it was an opportunity for the supply chain to make valuable business connections with a view to reciprocal agreements.

"The Americans are very serious about developing offshore wind power capacity to meet clean energy targets," he said. 

"They are coming here in recognition that the Humber is a growing global centre of excellence and at the heart of our drive for offshore renewables."

Eastern states from Maine to North Carolina are represented in the visiting party along with the British Embassy.

Massachusetts is a leading state in the race for offshore renewables in the US after approving the installation of 1,600MW of offshore wind power. 

Its second most senior legislator, Patricia Haddad, speaker pro tempore of the state House of Representatives, said offshore wind was creating thousands of jobs in Europe where Denmark and the UK were the leaders.

"Businesses, the supply chain and developers will be looking at Massachusetts because we have the largest offshore wind project in the US," she said.

There has been a strong focus over the last few years from THMA and other trade organisations on developing close relationships with the US.

The visit to the Humber builds on Memoranda of Understanding signed between THMA and two offshore wind organisations in the US and follows the Northern Powerhouse Mission to the States earlier this year, led by THMA, in partnership with the Department for International Trade, for talks with business, government and academia.

Harriet Cross, British Consul General in Boston, said the Humber visit could be a valuable resource for states in the US setting out to develop their own wind resources. 

"There is also much scope for joint research between our academic institutions," she said.

"As someone who was born and bred in the Humber region not far from Hull, I’m incredibly proud of the achievements and also the potential of this part of the Northern Powerhouse. 

"Offshore wind can generate significant economic growth and jobs and I look forward to supporting UK/US collaboration.”

The relationship will continue in October when several Humber and North-East companies will participate in the International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum held in Newport Rhode Island organised by Team Humber Marine Alliance's US partner Business Network for Offshore Wind.

The delegation to the Humber includes: Patricia Haddad, speaker pro tempore of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; Bruce Williamson, Maine Public Utilities Commission; Michael Rodrigues, Massachusetts State Senate; Sally Jameson, Maryland House of Delegates; Tom Simchak, policy advisor, energy, British Embassy, Washington; Melissa Wooten, vice consul, prosperity and economic policy, British Consulate General, Chicago.