Isle of Wight at the Centre of an Engineering Revolution

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Most people know the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, as an idyllic vacation destination. But it has another identity: the center of the world’s offshore wind turbine industry.

The island has long history of manufacturing and engineering, stretching back to shipbuilding in the 18th and 19th centuries and including more novel items like hovercraft, helicopters, and rockets.

Today, a factory on the island makes the largest serially-produced turbine blades in the world, and is at the heart of a thriving and highly-skilled engineering hub.

The wind turbine industry on the island has seen plenty of changes over the last 20 years as Aero Laminates became NEG Micon, then Vestas and finally the joint venture that exists today, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind.

The company has two manufacturing sites on the island. In 2017, it also repurposed a decommissioned oil-fired power plant on the mainland in nearby Southampton, turning it into a state-of-the-art finishing, and logistics facility. A giant barge takes wind turbine blades from the island across the water to be painted there.

The MHI Vestas sites have brought valuable skilled employment to an area which, like many other coastal communities in the UK and elsewhere in the world, is relatively economically deprived.

Just as the island’s rich history of innovation benefits the wind turbine industry, the industry is making a major contribution to the region’s socio-economic development.

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