AS an island nation, wind is the UK’s greatest asset, providing us with clean electricity that doesn’t cost the earth – quite literally.

And thanks to this week’s Government investment of £20m, we are putting Teesside on the map as a world-leading centre for offshore wind manufacturing.

Yesterday, I visited the Teesworks Offshore Manufacturing Centre where a brand new port will be built on the banks of the River Tees next to the former SSI steelworks site. Once complete, it will house up to three manufacturing sites and be capable of building up to 100 wind turbines a year, which will roll off the production line and straight out to sea, supporting major offshore wind projects and directly creating around 3,000 jobs.

This funding, which has come from a £160m investment pot announced by the Prime Minister last year to upgrade port infrastructure and support manufacturing, coupled with the proximity of North Sea wind farms such as Hornsea and Dogger Bank, will make sure the Tees can be the leading energy estuary of the 21st Century.

Teesside is now a major global player when it comes to offshore wind, but it has many other strengths too, with its life sciences sector playing a critical role in the UK’s ongoing fight against coronavirus.

Yesterday, I was privileged to see first-hand the incredible work that the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) in Darlington is doing to develop a ‘vaccine library’.

Having recently received a further £5m in Government funding, CPI’s library will form the basis of a rapid response facility that will help speed up the development of vaccines that protect against new coronavirus variants – safeguarding us all and securing our recovery.

And it’s that hope of recovery – boosted by the incredible fact that over 40 per cent of UK adults have now received a jab – that has earned the UK and Teesside a huge vote of confidence not only from the Government, but also from international investors too.

GE Renewable Energy – one of the world's leading wind turbine suppliers – has already committed to building a state-of-the-art offshore wind blade manufacturing factory at the Teesside port, creating around 750 of those 3,000 new jobs.

This is a project I have been personally involved with for some time, having served as Energy Minister before I became Business Secretary, so it’s incredible to finally get this deal over the line.

This new port will put businesses across Teesside in pole position as we ramp up our domestic offshore wind manufacturing base and attract further investment from energy companies around the world.

It is clear there are huge opportunities for Teesside just waiting to be harnessed. The UK already has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world, but we need to ensure our workforce and supply chain fully shares in the sector’s success.

Twenty years ago, Britain had just two offshore wind turbines powering a mere 300 homes. Today, a third of our electricity comes from renewable energy and we are working towards producing enough energy from offshore wind to power every home in the country by the start of the next decade. We have certainly come a long way.

Our 2030 target is ambitious, but with Teesside engineers manufacturing cutting-edge turbines able to power a home for two entire days with a single turn of their blades, it is within our grasp.

l Kwasi Kwarteng is the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy