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Green Living

Mitsubishi to invest £100 million in UK wind turbine centre

Hundreds of new jobs are to be created under a £100 million investment in a new wind turbine research centre, it was announced today.

Mitsubishi said it was looking at a number of sites in north east England to carry out research into building the world's biggest turbine blades.

The Government is supporting the development with grants of up to £30 million.

Up to 200 skilled jobs will be created over the next few years but business secretary Lord Mandelson said the move could lead to the creation of up to 1,500 jobs in the future.

Lord Mandelson and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband signed a memorandum of understanding with Mitsubishi executives at the Business Secretary's London offices today to mark the investment.

Mitsubishi chief executive Akio Fukui said the firm was looking at a number of locations in the North East where a factory will be built for the research to be carried out.

A prototype turbine will be built within three years and the first full-scale production will start after four years.

The turbines will be for offshore wind farms and will be offered for sale in overseas markets such as Germany, the United States and China as well as the UK.

Lord Mandelson said the announcement was a "real opportunity" for the UK to become a world leader, adding: "No country makes offshore wind turbines of the size we are talking about today on a commercial scale.

"Twenty years ago the UK was a leading centre for onshore wind technology, but we failed to capitalise on that by not providing the right climate for growth.

"We are determined not to let that happen again. We are creating the largest market in the world for offshore wind and we intend to build and support the industry."

Mr 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 supporting companies that locate here. It is another step to turning Britain into a leading green manufacturing centre."

Mr 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.

"We have been working with UK Trade and Investment 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."

The Government also announced £18.5 million funding for an offshore wind test site off the coast near Blyth in north east England, which will test blades up to 328ft (100m) long.