Gamesa Corporación Technológica of Spain announced it plans to invest €150m to establish two plants to produce composite turbine blades and ‘nacelle' power units at the port of Leith in Scotland.
Gamesa said it is in detailed negotiations with the Scottish port aimed at reaching a ‘Memorandum of Understanding' over plans to locate its UK manufacturing base there. Apart from the plants, this will also include port logistics and wind turbine service and maintenance operations.
Eighteen months ago, Madrid-based Gamesa revealed plans to base its global offshore wind power division in the UK. Last year, the group set up a new R&D facility in Strathclyde, Scotland, which already employs 60 engineers and the firm is currently moving its offshore divisional headquarters to offices in London where it will employ 70 staff.
Competing for the industrial investment with Leith, the Scottish port for Edinburgh, was Hartlepool in England as well as another Scots city, Dundee.
Depending on how the offshore market develops, the company expects its UK manufacturing base eventually to employ more than 800. In addition, the project is likely to lead to the creation of hundreds more jobs in the supply chain.
Gamesa chairman and CEO Jorge Calvet expressed delight at his company's decision and welcomed the support of the British government in the project. “The selection of Leith, as our preferred partner for the MOU (memorandum of understanding) aimed at establishing a UK manufacturing base is only a first stage, but an important one.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The world's fourth ranked wind turbine manufacturer, Gamesa has been developing two offshore platforms, one 5 MW and the other 6 – 7 MW, to participate in projects planned in coming years in the North Sea.
The first two prototypes for Gamesa's G11X offshore platform 5 MW power unit were due to be tested in the final quarter of 2012 with the pre-series expected to be ready in 2013. The pre-series of the more powerful 6 – 7 MW unit could be ready by 2014, the group stated at the end of 2010.
The decision to locate the plants in Leith is a significant boost for the renewable energy sector in Scotland which is reported to have only one former Vestas plant in Kintyre producing wind turbine towers.
Gamesa, which has a global workforce of 8,000, runs some 30 turbine plants in Europe, China, India, Brazil and the US. With 18 years experience, the group is responsible for the installation of turbines in 35 countries generating 24,000 MW.