UP to 750 green energy jobs are set to be created in Scotland making wind turbines, it was announced today.
Areva, one of Europe’s biggest wind power firms, revealed that it is to locate its UK turbine manufacturing arm in Scotland.
First Minister Alex Salmond was present for the announcement in Paris yesterday and said it could create 750 jobs in both the manufacturing and support supply chain.
Areva has signed a deal with economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, setting out its intention to locate
turbine casing and blade manufacturing facilities in Scotland.
The firm is now looking at various locations around the country, but the it is expected to be on the east coast in the Firth of Forth.
Luc Oursel, chief executive of Areva, said: “Scotland is known to be a pioneer in renewables and its commitment to offshore wind in particular was a key part of our decision to locate our future UK manufacturing base there.”
The agreement was signed by Mr Oursel and Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise and witnessed by Mr Salmond.
The First Minister said it is a further boost to Scotland’s position as one of Europe’s “key locations” for offshore wind.
“The manufacturing of nacelles (turbine casings) and blades for these turbines in Scotland will deliver nationwide economic benefits as well as much welcome inward investment to the chosen location once that has been agreed,” Mr Salmond said.
“This is another powerful example of how attractive Scotland is for international investors - and is indicative of our shared energy future.”
Areva said it will manufacture its five-megawatt turbines in Scotland for offshore projects in the UK, complementing its base at Le Havre which will supply France, Belgium and more southerly UK projects.
A third base in Bremerhaven, Germany, will help establish an operation to cover the European market, the firm said.
The Scottish Government wants to produce the equivalent of all of Scotland’s electricity needs from green energy like wind, wave and hydro by 2020. But critics, including engineering chiefs say this is unachieveable, while countryside campaigners say the growing numbers of turbines in rural areas are a scar on the landscape.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the announcement is “brilliant for Scotland”.
He said: “I am determined that Britain competes and thrives in the global race and this shows that the UK remains an attractive place for foreign investment.
“Growth of the renewable energy sector isn’t just good for our environment, it’s good for our economy too and, with more renewable energy deployed under three years of this coalition Government than under 13 years of the previous government, the UK is now the world’s biggest offshore wind market.
“Scotland benefits from UK-wide initiatives to promote renewables and access to the entire UK consumer market.”
The Coalition Government’s energy policy appeared to be mired in confusion recently when the Liberal Democrat energy secretary, Ed Davey, slapped down his new Conservative junior minister for claiming that no more onshore windfarms needed to be built in Britain.
John Hayes said the country was “peppered” with onshore windfarms and that “enough is enough” in newspaper interviews, but was stopped by Mr Davey from repeating them in a subsequent speech because they did represent Coalition policy.
The Areva announcement will increase the economic growth potential from renewable energy. Scotland’s renewable industry has attracted £2.8 billion capital investment since 2009.
Ms Wilson said: “Offshore wind is a key driver of the economic benefit of renewables and we will continue to work closely with Areva to support its development plans in Scotland and create ongoing opportunities for wider industry growth.”
Maria McCaffery, chief executive of trade body RenewableUK, said: “Factories like those planned by Areva will provide the jobs of the future. Parents are asking where their children will find employment - the answer is in the renewable energy sector.
“Britain’s offshore wind industry is on the threshold of delivering thousands of manufacturing jobs at a time when the country needs them most.”