Steel being used to construct a major wind farm being built near Port Talbot “more than likely” comes from China, a contractor has admitted.
The news comes just a week after Tata Steel announced 750 jobs are set to be axed in Port Talbot’s steel works – with cheap Chinese imports being blamed for part of the steel firm’s woes.
The Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project is a 76 turbine development located on land managed by Natural Resources Wales within Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot.
The project is being managed by energy company Vattenfall, while Siemens are providing the steel.
While Siemens says it may be the case that Port Talbot’s steel works are unable to supply the “correct type of steel”, they admit they are not entirely sure why the steel has not been supplied from within the UK, and have had to source materials from abroad.
A spokesman for Siemens said: “We source both British and Asian steel, and wherever possible, we seek to use local suppliers. It is fair to assume that, given the industry trade, Chinese steel is currently the cheapest in the market. It is more than likely Chinese steel being used.
“One of our procurement experts believes that Tata didn’t produce the right kind of steel for fabrication of the towers, though I can’t say that he was absolutely certain. It’s probable that anyone appointed would have had to go abroad to source it.”
Will Wason, Project Director of Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm said: “Vattenfall has contracted Siemens to supply 76 wind turbines to the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm and delivery to site is now well underway.
“Unfortunately, despite best efforts from Siemens, Mabey Bridge the former tower supplier based in Chepstow, was unable to supply steel towers to the project. Therefore, Siemens had to seek fabrication elsewhere.”
Neath resident and chair of Neath Chamber of Trade, Darren Nicholas has called the news a ‘slap in the face’ for Port Talbot steel workers.
“It’s ludicrous that they’ve sourced the steel from outside the UK in the middle of this massive crisis, caused partially by Chinese steel. It’s a massive slap in the face for Port Talbot, and something needs to be done to stop this happening again.”