Leading UK wind farm developer ScottishPower yesterday pledged support for the wind turbine factory to be built in Scotland. Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the Danish manufacturer of equipment for wind power production, announced on Monday that it was to set up a subsidiary, Vestas – Celtic Wind Technology Ltd., with production facilities on the Mull of Kintyre.
ScottishPower will be ordering wind turbines and supporting steel towers as part of a £300 million ($420 million) expansion of its wind farm activity. The company will also award the new factory a contract to maintain its large Beinn an Tuiric wind farm which is under construction and due for completion by the year-end.
Charles Berry, ScottishPower Executive Director, UK Division, said the factory represented a huge vote of confidence by both government and private sector in the future market for renewable energy in Scotland.
“We will be making considerable investment in renewable energy and it is very rewarding that the Scottish economy will be benefiting directly from the new business”, he added.
With the UK government intending to meet much of its renewable energy production target through the use of wind power, Vestas intends to expand its UK business in line with this. The factory will be located near Campbeltown on Kintyre, on the west cost of Scotland at a cost of £9.5 million. It is due to be operational during the first quarter of 2002.
The 10 000 m2 factory will assemble wind turbines and carry out production of steel towers. It is expected to create initially 100 jobs in an area with high unemployment after closure of the Machrihanish Air Force base and the local shipyard.
Les Howarth, former MD of Campbeltown Shipyard, who headed the local campaign for the factory, said he was absolutely delighted at the news.
“This is wonderful for the area, especially in the wake of the closure of so much local businesses including the Jaeger clothing plant. I have had countless people phoning me up and knocking on the door asking how we were doing. These are long-term quality jobs, and my hope is that the factory takes off creating even more opportunities”.
The buildings will be leased from Highlands & Islands Enterprise, a local entity promoting economic development in less favoured regions. Vestas’ investment in production equipment will amount to approximately £2.8 million.
“After almost two years of planning, we are extremely pleased that this project is now progressing. It will provide an excellent platform for servicing clients in the rapidly expanding markets on the British Islands,” said Mr. Tom K. Pedersen, Managing Director of Vestas, who is responsible for the project.
Vestas has worked with Scottish Power plc in the planning of the proposed facility. Scottish Power is committed to expanding its wind farm production in the region from 100 MW to 500 MW.
Friends of the Earth warmly welcomed the announcement of the planned factory. “This is excellent news. Although the UK has the largest wind resource in the whole of Europe it has fallen behind other countries in developing clean green energy. This new investment in 21st century technology is a big vote of confidence in the UK renewables market, a tremendous boost to jobs in the energy and engineering sectors and a substantial long term benefit to the environment” said Mark Johnston, Energy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth.
Developments such as the new Vestas plant demonstrate that the UK and Europe is serious about making the Kyoto Protocol work, with or without the United States said Friends of the Earth. The organisation believes that with the international climate conference in Bonn approaching next month, Tony Blair and John Prescott must stand firm with the European Union to provide the global leadership that is essential to get the agreement ratified and into force next year.
Britain currently has 857 grid-connected wind turbines generating electricity at 62 sites. Presently, all new turbines are imported, mostly from Denmark and Germany. In April, new projects were unveiled which will add a further 500-600 turbines at 18 offshore sites, representing an investment of over £1.5 bn and providing enough power for more than one million homes.