Glasgow & West Scotland

CS Wind agrees £27m turbine deal

wind tower Image copyright Raymond Hosie
Image caption The Campbeltown factory manufactures towers for wind farms

A deal that will pave the way for major expansion at a Kintyre manufacturer of towers for wind turbines has been agreed.

The £27m investment in the Campbeltown factory is expected to boost jobs at the plant and treble its capacity.

The investment from Siemens comes five years after the site was saved from closure through a takeover by SSE and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The factory has recently been taken over by Korean firm CS Wind.

The number of workers at the factory has recently risen from 135 to 170. That figure is expected to rise again to about 300 by the end of 2017.

Ground-breaking ceremony

The deal is also expected to lead to the towers being constructed in Argyll for the Beatrice offshore wind array in the Moray Firth.

On Wednesday, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with Vattenfall, the Swedish wind farm developer, to become a supplier.

The plant builds the cylindrical steel towers on which a turbine's gearbox and blades rotate.

Previously, it built up to 100 towers a year for onshore use. However, the new investment is expected to see that rise to 300, including 100 for offshore use.

The maximum diameter of the towers will rise from five metres to 7.5 metres.

CS Wind, which is established in China, Vietnam and Canada as a maker of turbine towers, took over the plant in April.

Work on the expansion gets under way with a ground-breaking ceremony attended by Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse, Seong-Gon Gim, chairman of CS Wind Corporation, and Charles Hay, the UK ambassador to Seoul.

Image copyright Raymond Hosie
Image caption The number of workers at the site is expected to rise to 300 by 2017

A spokesman for CS Wind UK said the new investment was a "strong signal that UK manufacturers and suppliers have an important part to play in the development of wind farm projects, securing jobs and a long-term future for the local economies."

Niall Stuart, chief executive of trade group Scottish Renewables, said: "The factory is a major employer in Argyll and Bute and an important part of Scotland's renewable energy sector.

"This announcement comes hot on the heels of contract wins for businesses in Wick, Nigg and Fife, all of which reinforces the economic and social benefits from investment in renewable energy."

These contracts were also to place supply bases and steel fabricators in the supply chain for the Beatrice wind array.

Hopes of other factories being built in Scotland to manufacture for wind farms have come to little.

Several big manufacturers have said they intended to invest in Scottish production, but through a series of mergers and slow development of the offshore sector, Campbeltown has remained the only such factory.

Siemens is currently building a large plant in Hull, at which it will manufacture blades for British offshore arrays.

It has warned that further investment is being put on hold until the UK's trading position with the rest of the European Union becomes clearer in the wake of the referendum.

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