Hooray … at last … a UK company, Scottish to boot, has made a bold step into meaningful manufacturing of components for large wind turbines by buying Finnish company Moventas for £85million.
By rescuing Moventas from bankruptcy, engineering group Clyde Blowers of East Kilbride has gained a credible foothold in the manufacture of gearboxes and drive trains for turbines up to multi-megawatt size.
This deal is highly significant as there is a dearth of large wind turbine components manufacturing capability under UK corporate control. Thus far it has been limited to towers and foundations, but not key components for multi-megawatt power heads.
Moventas employs 1,000 people in 10 countries and is said to operate some of the most advanced manufacturing and test facilities to be found anywhere.
It is clear from the announcement made by Clyde Blowers that its chairman and CEO Jim McColl is pleased with the acquisition, moreover one where the slate has been wiped clean, so enabling a debt-free fresh start for Moventas.
McColl has nursed for some time the desire to manufacture and assemble parts for renewable wind turbines here. He wants to cash in on a market that has thus far been dominated by foreign brands and which promises to become a boom.
While Moventas is also a foreign brand it is at least now British-owned and, judging by remarks made earlier this year, McColl will doubtless utilize the expertise of its workforce to help him realize the ambition of manufacturing here too.
The purchase would appear to complement the tie-up between Edinburgh University spin-out NGenTec and global gearing firm David Brown, which is a subsidiary of Clyde Blowers.
It was in February that a partnership deal was struck between the parties that would see David Brown manufacture, test and assemble the first 1MW prototype of NGenTec’s C-GEN direct drive turbine at the company’s Huddersfield headquarters.
Under the terms of the £multi-million multi-deal, David Brown was to receive an equity stake in NGenTec in return for providing its expertise.
Assuming the 1MW machine is completed and deployed on test next year, NGenTec then has the option to use David Brown to build a full-size 6MW demonstration turbine.
I presume that Moventas will now be roped into this critically important project that, if it succeeds, could lead to the series manufacture of a novel British-designed large turbine here … a new competitor for the £70billion over 10 years UK offshore wind market. That is surely worth striving for.
However, while NGenTec and Moventas mark two steps forward, David Brown did suffer a serious setback in August with the cancellation of US company Clipper Windpower’s 10MW Britannia class offshore turbine project by its parent, United Utilities Corporation (UTC).
In turn, the UK’s Crown Estate, which had agreed to buy the first prototype from Clipper, ended its agreement.