Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa announced on Friday plans for two €150 million factories at the Port of Leith in Scotland.
The company says it wants to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Port of Leith to agree the arrangements for a major manufacturing base to produce blades and nacelles, as well as delivering port logistics and O&M services.
The deal with the Port of Leith would cement Gamesa’s relationship with the UK and establish the country as the centre of its global offshore wind operations.
The turbine manufacturer says it looked at other potential ports as partners, but chose Leith as its ‘preferred partner’ and praised the support it had received from government ministers and agencies.
“I am delighted that Gamesa will pursue MOU discussions with the Port of Leith aimed at manufacturing its technologically advanced wind turbines for the offshore sector there,” commented Gamesa chair and CEO Jorge Calvet. “We hope to play a central role in strengthening the UK’s offshore wind energy sector and improving security of energy supply in the future.”
Gamesa says the development would bring an initial investment of €150 million and could eventually create around 800 new jobs.
The company established a new R&D centre in Strathclyde last year, which currently employs over 60 engineers and is expanding to around 180 staff.
Both UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the announcement of more foreign investment in the UK.
In a statement, Cameron said:
“This is fantastic news for Scotland and shows that the UK remains an attractive place for foreign investment.”
But in a veiled attack on Scotland’s devolution plans, Energy Secretary Ed Davey added:
“Being a United Kingdom means we can attract the large investment necessary and keep costs down. Projects like this have the potential to bring investment and support jobs across the whole of the country… [it sends] a powerful message to the offshore wind industry that the UK is the place to be.”
The news was also warmly welcomed by renewable energy and environmental groups, with Friends of the Earth campaigner Paul Steedman commenting:
“This is exactly the kind of low-carbon development the UK’s economy needs – plants like this will create hundreds of jobs and help revive British manufacturing.”
Both Friends of the Earth and WWF Scotland cautioned, however, that the government needs to rethink its support of fossil fuels announced in the last budget.
“Renewable energy will be bigger than oil for Scotland and the government needs to put it even more firmly at the centre of its economic and jobs strategies,” says WWF Scotland director Richard Dixon.
Meanwhile, Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said she was “greatly heartened” by global renewables companies queuing up to open manufacturing facilities in the UK.
For further information:
SSE gets go ahead for offshore wind turbine test site (20-Feb)
Scottish small turbine manufacturer secures £5 million order (14-Feb)
Samsung chooses Scotland for £100 million turbine venture (1-Feb)
Gamesa opens its first blades factory in India (11-Jan)
26 March 2012