Scottish commitment to renewables starts paying dividends

Scotland clean energy drive has been given a massive boost after it was chosen as the site of a new multi-million pound offshore wind base by the Spanish wind turbine manufacturer, Gamesa.
Scottish commitment to renewables starts paying dividends

Gamesa has given a huge vote of confidence to the UK offshore wind industry by announcing plans to build a major manufacturing facility in Leith which will produce the giant wind turbines that are set to be built around the British coast.

According to the company, the project could be worth up to €150 million of investment (around £125 million) and is expected to support over 800 direct jobs. The new factory is expected to make the enormous blades for wind turbines – which can be longer than an Olympic swimming pool – as well as the generator units that sit at the top of the turbine.

"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 Chairman and CEO, Jorge Calvet. “If market conditions are favourable this would mean many high quality jobs for the area. 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. Selection of Leith, as our preferred partner for the MOU aimed at establishing a UK manufacturing base is only a first stage, but an important one."

Calvet went on to say he had “only praise for the support” received by Gamesa throughout this process from government ministers and agencies across the UK.

‪"I look forward to the parties moving forward quickly to conclude the MoU, as [the] announcement is a welcome boost to Leith and to the wider Edinburgh and Lothians economy - with hundreds of quality engineering and other jobs coming to Scotland's capital city," Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, reacted.‪

Successful completion of MOU negotiations would mark a further stage in Gamesa's engagement in the UK. In 2011, Gamesa established a new R&D facility in Strathclyde, currently employing over 60 engineers, which is steadily growing and is expected to employ 180 people. The company is also in the process of moving its global offshore wind headquarters to its new London offices with an expected head-count of 70 staff.

Welcoming Gamesa’s announcement, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This is fantastic news for Scotland and shows that the UK remains an attractive place for foreign investment. Scotland benefits from UK wide initiatives to promote renewables and access to the entire UK consumer market. That coupled with the economic security that comes from being part of one of the world's most successful unions makes Scotland an obvious place for companies like Gamesa to invest in."

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has made up to £60 million of capital funding available to support the development of major offshore wind manufacturing facilities in assisted areas of England. The Scottish Government has established a £70 million pot for national renewable energy infrastructure projects.

"While other parts of the economy are sluggish or even going backwards the renewables industry is going from strength to strength,” explains WWF Scotland director, Dr Richard Dixon. “This investment will create jobs and help reduce carbon emissions, making it excellent news for Scotland, for the UK and for the environment. Together, renewable energy and energy efficiency can get us off our oil addiction and create one of the world's first modern zero-carbon economies."

The UK government will shortly respond to its consultation on support levels for renewable electricity under the Renewables Obligation from 2013 to 2017.

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