Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA, Spain’s biggest wind-turbine maker, opted to locate a 150 million-euro ($198 million) offshore wind energy hub in Leith, the port area of the Scottish capital Edinburgh.
Gamesa signed a memorandum of understanding with local officials and plans to build two factories to manufacture blades and nacelles, the Zamudio, Spain-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. It plans to set up a logistics unit in the port as well as an operations and maintenance center for the giant sea-based generators, Gamesa said.
Leith edged out the northeast English coastal town of Hartlepool to win the investment, which will make it a focal point for an industry that may be worth as much as $52 billion over the next eight years. Gamesa, which is moving the headquarters of its offshore business to London, employs 180 people at a research center in Glasgow and will create 800 more jobs in Leith as long as the market meets its expectations.
“Gamesa intends to play a central role in the development of the offshore wind market in the U.K.,” Gamesa Chairman Jorge Calvet said in the release. “With favorable market conditions, this plan will mean many high-quality jobs for the region.”
The U.K. plans to install hundreds of wind turbines in the North Sea to raise its offshore generating capacity. The industry may be worth as much as 33 billion pounds ($52 billion) over this decade, according to the Carbon Trust, founded by the government to help reduce emissions.
“This is fantastic news for Scotland and shows that the U.K. remains an attractive place for foreign investment,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement. The security that comes from “one of the world’s most successful unions” shows why companies like Gamesa invest in Scotland, he said.
Citigroup Inc. analyst Peter Atherton in November said power companies should exercise “extreme caution” investing in Scotland until First Minister Alex Salmond sets out the details of his plans to seek independence from the U.K. Salmond, leader of the semi-autonomous government in Edinburgh, plans to call a referendum on independence in 2014.
Officials in Edinburgh aim to lay the foundations for a concentration of skills and investments servicing North Sea wind parks just as Aberdeen transformed its economy with the oil industry. Samsung Heavy Industries Co. said on Jan. 31 that it will base a 100 million-pound offshore wind project creating more than 500 jobs across the Forth River estuary from Leith in Methil.
Cameron’s government this month also decided to base the U.K.’s Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh. The state-run bank focused on clean technology projects is due to be operational by the end of this year.
About 1 billion pounds has been invested in offshore wind in Britain since April, U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said on Feb. 9 after inaugurating the world’s biggest offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea off Britain’s west coast.