Siemens, Gamesa and GE confirms wind power plants in UK

Siemens has revealed it will begin manufacturing wind turbines in the UK from 2014, following the announcement in last week’s spending review that the government will help fund the upgrading of ports to support offshore wind farm developers.

The German engineering giant confirmed today that it is "well on track" with plans to build a UK factory ready by 2014, creating up to 700 jobs through an £80m investment.

"The positive signal from the UK government means we can push ahead with our strategy of investments in growth areas for renewable energy," said Siemens Renewable Energy chief executive Rene Umlauft. "We will extend our market leadership with this new UK production plant for the next generation of offshore wind turbines."

Siemens has still not decided where it will build the factory, however it confirmed it has a number of preferred sites on the East and North East coastline under consideration.

Either location would provide optimum access to key Round 3 offshore wind farms, especially the 4GW Hornsea zone, which Siemens is developing in a 50:50 joint venture with Mainstream Renewable Power.

The new factory will produce Siemens largest turbine, which will stand 150 metres tall and will boast 6MW of capacity. It is designed specifically for offshore conditions and will use direct drive technology, an increasingly popular design that contains no gearbox and as such is expected to cut the cost of maintenance for difficult to access offshore turbines.

"The next generation 6MW direct drive offshore turbines which will be built at the new UK factory will scale more than 150 metres, taller than Wembley Stadium’s arch and higher than the tenth-tallest building in the UK," said Siemens wind power chief executive Jens-Peter Saul.

The announcement follows a summer of uncertainty for the UK’s offshore wind industry, after the government confirmed its planned £60m port upgrade programme would be included in the spending review.

The decision prompted several wind turbine manufacturers, including GE and Mitsubishi, as well as Siemens, to warn that they could shelve plans for new British turbine factories if the funding was scrapped.

However, last week chancellor George Osborne announced that £200m would be made available for low-carbon infrastructure projects, including funding for the port programme.

Speaking to, energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne confirmed that the spending settlement would ensure that the full £60m of port funding would still be delivered.

Saul said that Siemens is now working closely with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Environment and Climate Change to progress the port-site competition.

"We are looking forward to more details of the next stages in the near future," he said.

Further details of the ports competition are expected to be revealed later this week.

The renewables industry will now be watching closely to see if Mitsubishi also confirm that they are going ahead with their mooted investments.