When Vestas wanted to close its plant at Campbeltown in Scotland, the government stepped in to help find a buyer. Now the plant is looking to expand, and the Danish owner Skykon, contradicting Vestas, says UK demand for wind energy is strong. Read the story from New Energy Focus here and below.
Skykon prepares to start expansion of Scottish turbine factory
Niels Brix, vice president of Danish wind turbine manufacturer Skykon, claimed UK demand for wind energy was strong
Danish wind turbine manufacturing firm Skykon has confirmed that it is to start expansion works at its Campbeltown turbine factory in Scotland, which it acquired from Vestas in March, next month.
Skykon vice president Niels Brix told NewEnergyFocus that the work, originally announced earlier this year (see this newenergyfocus story), was needed in order to ensure that the factory, which produces towers for both on and offshore wind turbines, could keep up with demand for wind turbines from the UK market.
He said the UK has one of the strongest markets for wind energy and this was why Skykon chose to purchase the Vestas facility. The comments came despite claims from Vestas earlier this month that the UK onshore wind market was not strong enough to merit keeping its wind turbine blade operations on the Isle of Wight and in Southampton open (see this newenergyfocus story).
Skykon has already undertaken work to upgrade the Campbeltown facility and has installed new machinery. It is now set to begin expansion work and has received fast-track planning approval for a new 14,000 square metre purpose-built factory which will see staff numbers rise from 100 to 300 and allow the number of towers produced to treble.
Mr Brix told NewEnergyFocus that work on the new factory, which is operated by Skykon subsidiary Welcon Towers, would be starting this September and it is hoped that it will be operational by summer 2010.
In March the Danish firm secured £35 million in private investment for the expansion and in addition to building the extra capacity is set to introduce new manufacturing techniques and install new equipment. A research and development facility will also be built.
Mr Brix said it was important for wind turbine manufacturers to work together to ensure there was enough supply to meet demand for high quality wind turbines.
He said demand in the UK was particularly strong and added: “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 he believed the political and public support for both off and onshore wind energy helped to make the UK one of the strongest markets for wind, which had influenced Skykon’s decision to buy the Campbeltown facility.
However, he claimed that turbine component manufacturers needed to work together to ensure that supply could continue to meet demand. He warned: “We need to ensure the sector is big enough and grows to a significant size to meet the market.”
Speaking about the recently closed Vestas wind turbine facility on the Isle of Wight he said that Skykon was always looking for opportunities to grow but could not comment on any acquisition targets.
He added: “The aim is to be a big player and have a competitive edge.”
New Welcon Towers chairman, Per Staehr has also been appointed this month to help oversee the developments at Campbeltown. Mr Brix explained that Mr Staehr has significant experience in the wind energy sector having been chairman of Danish offshore wind farm firm A2SEA.