Siemens has opened its Energy Service Training centre in Newcastle in a ceremony that was attended Lord Willis of Knaresborough, former chair of the House of Commons Science and Technoogy Committee. The Wallsend-based centre will look to provide top-class training for service technicians working on both conventional and renewable power plants.

The £8 million investment in the centre is expected to help put the North East on the map as a centre for excellence for skills and training.

Keith Hunter, General Manager of Training Services for Siemens Energy Service, explained the rationale behind the establishment of training centre: “We are a service business and our customers depend on us to keep their plants up and running, safely and efficiently.

“It is imperative therefore that we have people with the right skills, investing in our in-house capability was the best way to ensure that quality and reliability for our customers.”

The top-of-the-range training facility boasts a full-sized nacelle from a 2.3MW wind turbine and is equipped with 15 classrooms complete with smartboards.

Speaking about the centre, Graham Hartley, Director, Siemens Energy Service Fossil Department, said: “This could not be a more exciting time for the UK Service business, with the high growth projected in renewables.

“Having a world-class training facility to support this business is critical to future development. Given the North East's history and engineering heritage, we're incredibly proud to house the UK's only training centre combining training facilities for technicians working on wind farms and power plants.”

This year Siemens will train up to 500 newly-hired employees, whilst many hundreds of other employees working on wind, steam or gas turbines will also attend refresher or up-skilling courses at the newly-opened centre.