The fate of a major renewables investment remains unclear after Spanish energy giant Gamesa broke a self-imposed deadline on deciding whether to locate in Dundee or at a rival port in England.
The company had indicated it would announce the location of its new UK wind turbine manufacturing and logistics hub by the end of October after chief executive officer Jorge Calvet confirmed Dundee and Hartlepool were the final two ports in the running for the EUR150m investment.
With that deadline passed, the Basque-based firm would only say that a final decision is now expected ”soon” and it is continuing to consider its options.
A spokeswoman said: ”Gamesa continues to analyse its future industrial implementation in UK — the plant and the other works as logistic and O&M (operation and maintenance) services — based on different variables.
”In this context, Gamesa will take the decision on a finalist port for exclusive negotiations soon. In this moment, the company keeps in discussion and exchange of information with two ports, Hartlepool and Dundee.
”Gamesa’s investment in UK offshore plan, around EUR150m, require a deep analysis of the site. In this sense, the characteristics of port infrastructure and the area will be important, but the key will be included in how close are the projects of our customers, supply chain development, possible expansion of infrastructure, ease of logistics work etc.
”Gamesa estimates that the construction and development of its offshore wind business in the United Kingdom will create over 1,000 direct jobs and another 800 indirect jobs at local suppliers.”
The firm’s decision is being keenly awaited in business and political circles as it has the potential to transform Dundee’s economic fortunes in the way the oil industry did for Aberdeen. Aside from Gamesa, The Courier understands that Dundee dock owners Forth Ports are mulling over a number of proposals from renewables manufacturers interested in locating at the port.
Securing investment from a major player would place Dundee at the heart of the offshore wind sector in Scotland and put it in line for a significant share of the estimated £15bn to £18bn which is to be invested in the sector over the next decade.
Phil Wharton of Dundee Port-based Oceanteam Equipment Base said it appears the city’s renewables sector is in the midst of a ”pregnant pause” and he hopes significant inward investment will be secured soon.
He said the city has a unique opportunity to capaitalise on an emerging and potentially lucrative new industry.
”All of the facilities are here and everyone stands to gain,” Mr Wharton said. ”We get told there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes but there doesn’t seem to be anything concrete for Dundee as yet.
”There needs to be a timeline put on it of when they expect an announcement. It is nearly 2012 now and to be ready for 2015 somebody is going to have to push the button shortly.”
In a bid to encourage investment the Scottish Government — which wants reneweables to generate 100% of Scotland’s equivalent power output by 2020 — created the £70m National Renewables Investment Fund but none of that cash has yet been committed.
Allan McQuade, director of business infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise, said negotiations to ”unlock” investment opportunities for Dundee and other ports are continuing.
He said: ”There is strong market interest in the ports outlined in the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan. We are in negotiation with the port owners, existing account managed companies, potential inward investors and other partners on options which will unlock investment.
”We anticipate that announcements will be forthcoming in the next couple of months.”
Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond said Dundee is generating a ”large volume of renewables inquiries” but stressed it is not a race. He said the most important thing is to build a sustainable industry.
He said: ”The NRIP plan said the two best locations for renewables were Leith and Dundee. The reason for that is there is access to a skills base, deep water and land availability. Given the volume of interested parties we have got, I would feel confident we will play a significant part in renewables development.
”What is important here is we build a sustainable supply chain for the next 20 years plus. That involves talking to developers, manufacturers, and making sure all of that works together well.”