Sunday, 30 August 2009

Skykon to treble turbine ouput and staff as Campbeltown plant expansion approved

Published Date: 30 August 2009
By Adam Cash
SKYKON, the Danish wind turbine maker, has revealed that expansion work will begin next month at its Campbeltown factory after the firm received fast-track planning approval.
The purpose-built facility will allow Skykon to treble tower production and boost staff from 100 to 300.Niels Brix, vice-president of Skykon, said work on the new facility was expected to be completed by next summer. He told an energy trade magazine the factory – which would be operated by Welcon Towers, a Skykon subsidiary – was needed to keep up with demand for both onshore and offshore wind turbines in the UK. A research and development facility is also planned for the site.Skykon bought the Campbeltown facility from Vestas in March amid much fanfare from the Scottish Government, with First Minister Alex Salmond flying out to the Machrihanish site.The proposed closure of the Vestas facility had been mooted in August 2008, prompting the Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Development International (SDI) to step in and help to find a buyer.SDI awarded a regional selective assistance (RSA) grant of £9.2 million to Welcon Towers and HIE contributed about £500,000 in training support.The Danish firm also secured £35m of private capital investment to fund the expansion.When local suppliers and contractors are taken into account, the Scottish Government estimated that more than 450 jobs would be supported by the wind turbine plant.Brix said: "The market for wind is growing here and the UK is the most exciting market for us. I think the agenda about wind energy is so clear and the government and public are supportive."He said the UK had one of the strongest markets for wind energy, a fact that had influenced Skykon's decision to buy the Scottish plant.Brix also called on wind turbine makers to cooperate to meet demand and to grow the market.Earlier this month, Per Staehr was appointed as chairman of Welcon Towers to oversee the developments at Campbeltown. At the time, Skykon highlighted Staehr's experience in the sector, having previously been chairman of Danish offshore wind farm firm A2SEA.Brix's comments about the health of the UK wind energy sector came after Vestas closed its wind turbine facility on the Isle of Wight earlier this month, with the loss of 450 jobs, with Vestas claiming demand was not high enough to keep the factory open.The Scottish Government's energy target is to meet 50 per cent of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020, with an interim target of 31 per cent by 2011.Scotland has been estimated to have 25 per cent of Europe's wind energy potential, as well as a quarter of Europe's tidal energy resources