Argyll-based wind turbine manufacturer Welcon Towers, part of the Skykon group, have concluded lease agreements with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for an extension to their existing factory at Machrihanish. HIE and Skykon have also each agreed contracts with builder Rok for the site preparation and construction work. As a result, construction teams from Rok will be on site in the next few weeks.
Skykon, who took over the factory from Vestas in March 2009, are now on track to begin production of off-shore turbine towers on the site, which until now has been primarily focused on towers for the on-shore market.
This will leave Skykon well placed to compete for supply to the off-shore market, including the three major fields off the west coast of Scotland in respect of which Crown Estates have recently granted exploratory licences (Argyll Array (off Tiree ), Islay & Kintyre ).
Skykon is investing over £14 million in the first phase of development at Machrihanish, with HIE undertaking an additional £5 million (including £2 million of European funding through ERDF) of land remediation and site preparation work. New staff have already been employed to supply towers for the Clyde Windfarm project, Europe's largest onshore windfarm on behalf of Siemens, and additional recruitment is expected in early 2010. It is hoped that the plant will employ around 300 staff by 2012.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said:
“This is a great day for the Scottish renewables industry. The extended factory will create skilled jobs and help Scotland capture the benefits of the onshore, and now offshore, wind industry. With the Crown Estate’s recent go-ahead for multi-billion pound investment in offshore wind, this facility will be a first class asset for us in the global renewables market.”
HIE area manager for Argyll and the Islands, Douglas Cowan, said:
“This extension will lead to larger turbine towers being manufactured here in Argyll ready to supply markets across the UK and Europe. This rapidly developing market presents an excellent opportunity for us to capitalise on the natural resources we have in the area, benefiting local communities across Argyll and the Islands for years to come.
“The Highlands and Islands as a whole are the key to Scotland's renewable energy potential and we are strong supporters of Skykon, their place in our community and their importance to the wider Scottish economy.”
Rok’s construction leader in Scotland, Scott Alexander, said the company was pleased to be using its skilled and experienced teams for such an exciting project at a time when the market for renewable energy sources was really coming into its own.
Together with its partners HIE is committed to building the region into a world leader in the development and production of renewable energy. Renewable energy currently offers the Highlands and Islands an opportunity to develop expertise in a world leading industry which could offer significant long-term and sustainable economic and social benefits.