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Energy policy blow as wind turbine firm hits cash crisis

Scotland’s renewable energy aspirations have been dealt a serious blow after the parent company of the country’s largest wind turbine manufacturer filed for insolvency.

The future of the Skykon factory near Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre is hanging in the balance after the Copen-hagen-based owner of the facility warned it was in a “very cash-strapped situation”.

The Scottish Government ploughed millions of pounds of grant funding into the project only 18 months ago in a bid to rescue the factory, which employs about 120 people.

The news is a major setback for the renewable energy sector in Scotland, which has already come under fire for a lack of manufacturing capability to serve the burgeoning industry, which First Minister Alex Salmond has heralded as a key driver of Scottish economic growth.

Skykon yesterday admitted it had filed for a “suspension of payment” in the Danish courts – a procedure akin to that of administration in the UK or Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US.

“The wind turbine industry is project based and very cyclical, and it is currently being affected by a number of negative factors in the wake of the financial crisis. These effects have also impacted Skykon to the effect that we are in a very cash-strapped situation,” said Skykon chief executive Jens Pedersen.

The firm was due to restart production next month to supply wind turbine towers to the international renewables market.

The company yesterday insisted it was business as usual, while corporate recovery experts in Denmark try to find a way of saving the troubled firm.

“We’re just carrying on as normal in Campbeltown,” said one worker. “We don’t know what is going to happen yet.”

Gareth Williams, head of policy for the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, warned that the Campbeltown plant was essential for Scotland’s future as a leader in the renewable energy sector.

“This is a concerning announcement which reflects current challenges for the onshore wind manufacturing sector,” he said.