Renewable energy firm Gamesa is a world leader in the design, manufacture and installation of wind turbines. It operates in 20 countries across four continents, producing more than 20,000 MW of power.
Although these are mostly onshore wind farms, the firm is expected to be at the forefront of the offshore wind energy revolution. First Minister Alex Salmond met Jose Maria Ugusquiza, a member of the Gamesa board, in Bilbao.
Although he stressed that no deal has been done and that Gamesa is also looking at other locations outside Scotland, he said establishing a wind turbine manufacturing base in Scotland is one of the SNP administration’s main ambitions.
"One of our key targets is to get that manufacturing component," said Mr Salmond. "Talks are at an advanced stage and they will be coming to Scotland in two weeks and looking at a number of key sites."
Mr Salmond said he could not disclose which parts of the country will be included on the itinerary of the fact-finding trip because of commercial sensitivities.
However, he said he would press hard to make Scotland’s case and that if Gamesa chose Scotland hundreds of jobs would be created "at a minimum."
"With unrivalled energy resources off our coast and a range of wave, tidal and offshore wind development already under way, Scotland leads the way in generating power offshore," he said.
"We have an estimated 25% of Europe’s offshore wind farm and tidal resource and 10% of its wave potential, a renewable energy resource unrivalled in Europe.
"Gamesa’s visit to Scotland on this fact-finding trip is a further vote of confidence in the talent, expertise and infrastructure we have to support the development of a clean, green renewables future."
Mr Ugusquiza said his company will make its decision on a future manufacturing base soon.
"Gamesa will play a leading role in offshore wind energy’s progress and wants to be at the centre of the development process," he said. "Therefore, the visit to Scotland will help in our decision making about potential investments in the UK, which we recognise is becoming a renewable energy hub with significant wind projects and a promising future for offshore."
Iberdrola unveils £3bn renewable energy plan for Scotland
Spanish energy giant Iberdrola — the parent company of ScottishPower — is planning a £3 billion investment in renewable energy projects in Scotland over the next two years, it was revealed today.
First Minister Alex Salmond is at the company’s new headquarters in Bilbao for the announcement.
Iberdrola chairman Ignacio Galan said the company intends to make a total investment in the UK worth €4.8 billion — two thirds of which is earmarked for Scotland.
The money will be used to develop wind farms, smart grids and carbon capture programmes.
Should the development contract be awarded to Iberdrola, Mr Galan said the programme would open up trade opportunities for Scottish and Basque firms worth an estimated €5.4 billion and will "reinforce his strong commitment to Scotland".
"In this way, Iberdrola will continue to act as a driving force behind development in Scotland and the Basque country, two significant regions that are very important to our company and where we have significant plans for the future," he said.
ScottishPower and Iberdrola merged three years ago and £2.7 billion has been invested in Scotland since then.
The firm’s renewable energy division, ScottishPower Renewables, is now the country’s leading wind power developer and generator in the country.
The Whitelee wind farm, just south of Glasgow, is the largest wind farm in Europe and its capacity will increase from 217MW to 539MW by 2012.
Iberdrola has also won through to the British Government’s public tender process to develop a commercial carbon capture and storage programme at Longannet in Fife, where they are currently operating a CCS prototype.
Tayside and Fife are both hoping to cash in on the renewable energy boom, which could bring tens of thousands of jobs to the country in the turbine manufacturing and maintenance sectors.
Fife company Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) has already won a £2 million contract from Norwegian tidal power developer Hammerfest Strom to construct the first of their advanced HS1000 tidal turbines in Scotland.