One of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers is in talks with the government about setting up a factory in Britain.
Gamesa, the Spanish turbine company, is being urged by Iberdrola, the owner of Scottish Power, to build a manufacturing facility to serve the British market, according to Ignacio Galan, Iberdrola’s chief executive.
Gamesa confirmed last night it was considering investing in the UK and said it could make a decision in the next three or four months.
The government has been trying hard to attract inward investors to supply the planned £100bn development of offshore wind power, with only limited success, although ministers are expected to announce a new investment in the wind industry this morning.
The opening of a turbine factory would boost hopes of creating “green jobs”, which took a blow last year when Vestas of Denmark shut the UK’s only big wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight, with the loss of more than 600 jobs.
The government has been in talks for months with leading turbine manufacturers, including Siemens of Germany, General Electric of the US and Mitsubishi of Japan.
Gamesa is dominant in the Spanish onshore wind market, which is slowing after rapid growth. Last week it announced a tie-up with Bard, a German company that specialises in offshore wind, to create a joint venture to break into international markets.
Bard has developed a five megawatt wind turbine, one of the larger models expec-ted to be used for the new generation of offshore wind farms sited in deeper water and farther from land.
Offshore wind farms now being built, such as the London Array in the Thames estuary, set to be the world’s largest, generally use a 3.6MW turbine built by Siemens. As a result, most of the €2bn (£1.8bn) of contracts for the project are going to Denmark and Germany.
The government says it is offering attractive support packages to manufacturers considering coming to Britain. But at a recent meeting of energy chiefs with the prime minister at Downing Street, an executive from Mitsubishi drew unfavourable comparisons between the incentives available in the UK and those on offer in other countries, according to people present.
Iberdrola plans to be one of the largest investors in offshore wind in Britain, having a half-share in a project to develop up to 7,200MW of capacity off the coast of East Anglia. Mr Galan said he wanted the turbines for the project to be sourced locally.
Iberdrola is Gamesa’s largest shareholder, with a 14 per cent stake.
Mr Galan also said Iberdrola planned to open an engineering centre for low-carbon energy, employing 250 people and likely to be in Glasgow.