Scotland has missed out on hundreds of millions of pounds of work in the creation of one of the country’s biggest offshore wind farms to overseas firms, the Herald can reveal.
Unions are furious at what they see as “the scraps off the table” that Scotland has received in the work on the £2 billion Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) wind farm off the Fife coast, awarded by EDF, the French state energy giant.
It is understood that in a key contract – it is proposed a minimum of eight of 54 steel foundation jackets which anchor the turbines to the seabed will be built in Scotland with the rest being constructed in south east Asia.
The Herald can also reveal that Scotland has lost further important project work, worth hundreds of millions of pounds to England, Germany, Finland and France.
The £640m Saipem turbine jackets deal will mean Canadian-owned Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) yards in Arnish and Fife continuing to lose out in the “green manufacturing revolution” getting an estimated 15% of this valuable and crucial manufacturing work. Saipem will also supply and install an additional two jackets for offshore substations.
But while the fanfare over the finances for what is one of Scotland’s biggest renewable energy projects was made yesterday, a Saipem source stated that the Scottish contract, which it was hoped would revive BiFab’s fortunes in Scotland, is yet be signed.
BiFab, which employs around 1,400 workers was rescued from the brink of administration by the Scottish Government with a loan valued at £37.4m, but then was purchased by Canadian firm DF Barnes, although hundreds of jobs were shed.
The workforce is now estimated to then stand at just 115
The only new confirmed jobs Scotland would gain is 50 over 25 years, at a new maintenance base at Eyemouth harbour.
It has added further fuel to the anger over what unions have described as a renewables market “chaos” which is increasingly placing Scotland’s green energy revolution in foreign hands. EDF Renewables UK chief executive Matthieu Hue said that they would continue to work “very hard to maximise the potential of the project for the local supply chain in Scotland”.
But he angered union leaders when he added: “We do not ignore the supply chain outside Scotland – in fact Scotland doesn’t have all the skills and contractors yet to be able to bid in all aspects of wind farm construction.”
He added:”But as the growth of offshore wind continues, we certainly hope and push for Scottish companies to increase their input into offshore projects. Of the BiFab yard he said:
“It has been mothballed for some time and it’s important the yard is able to build up the capacity and we certainly think it will allow BiFab and its owner to do that.”
Peter Welsh, head of campaigns with GMB Scotland: “Over 10 years ago we had the then Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond talk about the country becoming the Saudi Arabia of renewables. Now we are fighting for what are scraps from our own offshore wind sector.
“If we are only getting 15% of a manufacturing contract, with the remaining 85% being done halfway around the world, that is not success, that is failure.”
The Herald can reveal that in a separate contract worth nearly £100m, the Milan-headquartered telecom and electricity cable group Prysmian will produce and supply submarine cables at its ‘centre of excellence’ in Pikkala, Finland. Further land cables will be manufactured in Gron, France.
Further parts for the turbines are being produced in Hull, and Cuxhaven, Germany.
The wind farm project is due to be completed in 2023 and will provide power for 375,000 homes, with offshore construction to start in June 2020.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The terms and conditions of the jacket construction contract are still being agreed between Saipem and BiFab.
“The commencement of work on the Neart na Gaoithe wind farm is positive news for the Port of Dundee, Eyemouth Harbour, and BiFab in Fife, which are set to benefit from the associated jobs and investment in the community, demonstrating the strengths and potential of our indigenous supply chain.
“The Government is actively encouraging developers to explore every possible option to help the Scottish supply chain in the development of future offshore wind projects.”
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