Fast growth in the wind energy market will see another 50 jobs being created at Siemens Energy Service Renewables operation on Tyneside before the end of the year.
This month Siemens received planning permission to build a £310m wind turbine factory in Hull, which will lead to jobs being created at its Newcastle-based servicing division.
Siemens’ £9m wind power training centre, based at the former CA Parsons works on Shields Road, will accommodate the new recruits on a six-week programme which involves technical and safety training on real training turbines, training towers and electrical and mechanical work stations.
The intake is in addition to the 350 Siemens has already recruited in the North East this year, and will bring the total number working in Energy Service Renewables to 1,000.
After training the new recruits will enter Siemens as onshore and offshore technicians and office-based staff. The intake will include management positions right down to apprenticeship levels.
Siemens services and maintains almost half of the UK’s total wind-generating capacity, and the training centre also trains its national and international customers, as well as sub-contractors.
Richard Luijendijk, managing director of Siemens Energy Service Renewables UK and Ireland, said: “The training centre is one of only four globally accredited centres - this is a site of worldwide importance which is leading the global wind energy industry.
“Siemens sets the standards in this emerging industry and its great to be able to deliver this from the North East.
“We’ve got people coming from all over the world to train here, and of course they’re staying for extended periods of time in Newcastle.”
The focus for the centre is on internal training, although some commercial opportunities exist to provide programmes for other operators.
Brian Wilkinson, service engineering manager at Siemens Service Renewables, added: “The training centre serves another function in that its putting the North East on the map. Siemens operates in some 190 countries, and employees from these places come through the centre and take away their experience of Newcastle.
“The same process is happening with our international customers. Siemens is held in very high regard in places like the Far East and Asia, and by osmosis we’re spreading the message about the North East and all it has to offer.”
As the firm’s contracts grow Richard Luijendijk has promised the firm will use as many local sub-contractors to as possible when staffing service contracts.
He added: “We’ll use North Eastern subcontractors as much as possible. This is not only about our commitment to the regional supply chain, but its also about driving down the costs of wind energy.
“We’re constantly striving to bring it in line with traditional fossil operations, and there has been some great progress in that respect. By using home-grown services and workforce we can make wind energy more and more attractive.”
21 year-old Connor Dey, a Siemens apprentice from Walker, said the wind industry posed a great opportunity for young people like him who are keen to pursue a career in engineering.
He said: “I came to Siemens after studying electrical engineering at college. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but everyday is different, which is great from my point of view.
“I can be working across maybe four or five turbines in a day. All the technicians at Siemens are behind the company, and its a pleasure to work hard on a turbine that’s down to get it back up and running.”<p/> <p/> <p/>
WIND turbines are getting bigger and better - and none more so than Siemens’ 6MW offshore machine, which has the world’s largest blade at 75-metres long.
The impressive piece of engineering has an entire rotor span of 154 metres and features 50% fewer moving parts than other geared turbines. The turbine boasts a towerhead mass of less than 350 tonnes, which is considered lightweight.
Siemens’ Newcastle CA Parsons Works base will take delivery of a 6MW turbine in coming months and will need to extend its training centre to accommodate the enormous structure. The firm needs begin training up technicians on the 6MW technology.
35 6MW turbines will populate the Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm site, which is situated 8km off the Holderness coast. The development, operated by DONG Energy, will produce enough electricity to power 200,000 homes.
The project is the first of a major 300 turbine order for Siemens, worth about €2.5bn, which will see turbines installed across the UK until 2017.