Industry  |  Successes  |  09.11.2011

After the Titanic - giving Belfast shipyards a new lease of life

The Harland & Wolff shipyards in Belfast, Northern Ireland is a place steeped with history. World famous for its construction of the ill-fated Titanic, the shipyards were also the site of deep sectarianism during that region's long lasting conflict. However, the shipyards have been given a new lease a life is a hub for the development of renewable energy. 

At its peak, the Harland & Wolff shipyards employed 35,000 people. However, it was not immune from the decline in ship building and heavy industry that the rest of Europe faced towards the end of the 20th century. Its prospects were hardly helped by its location at the centre of a long running sectarian conflict, and for many decades the shipyard was tainted by the stain of catholic discrimination. 

However, the shipyard's fortunes improved along with those of the province following its 1998 peace agreement. The shipyards have now become an international centre for the development of renewable energy. Not only does Harland & Wolff build renewable energy infrastructure, but it conducts research and development into the latest designs, which ensures a wide range of jobs are available. 

The shipyard is now building a new history to rival that of its "titanic" glory days. In 2008, it produced the world's largest commercial scale tidal stream energy generator and this role his continued and today 75% of its workforce is involved in renewable energy.  

In a telling sign, the construction of renewable energy infrastructure now far exceeds a former mainstay of the shipyard - building supertankers for the transport of oil. 

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