Vestas Plans New Wind Turbine Factory

Wind turbine giant Vestas is planning to build a new factory in the UK, creating 2,000 jobs - it made the announcement after more than 400 jobs were lost on the Isle of Wight when Vestas closed its wind turbine factory in Newport in 2009.

The Danish-owned firm is applying for planning permission for a new plant at Sheerness in Kent to build turbines for the offshore wind industry.

The announcement is a huge boost for the UK's renewable energy sector and follows Vestas' controversial decision to close a factory on the Isle of Wight with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Greenpeace said today's announcement was "excellent news'', showing there were huge opportunities in the UK for renewable energy.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: ''This is excellent news and shows that there are real jobs and huge opportunities for the UK in renewable energy.

''The Government now needs to create the right regulatory framework to build a sustainable green economy.

''This must include removing the blockages to faster take-up of renewable energy, including giving the Green Investment Bank the ability to borrow money and setting ambitious renewable energy targets beyond 2020.''

Greenpeace called on the Government to ensure support for offshore wind, including improving skills and training, the electricity grid and the offshore planning regime and making sure planned reform of the energy market backs renewables rather than focusing on nuclear.

The news is a massive boost for Kent after drug giant Pfizer said earlier this year that it would be shedding more than 2,000 jobs when it shuts its renowned research and development facility at Sandwich.

The UK is the world's largest offshore wind market and has a massive offshore project pipeline.

Vestas said the project will go ahead provided it receives enough orders for its V164-7.0 MW purpose-built offshore turbine.

A spokesman said: ''Vestas is prepared to make the necessary significant investment in turning the option into a full lease and building the planned new production facilities, thereby creating more than 2,000 direct and indirect new jobs provided the V164-7.0 MW order pipeline materialises as expected.

''With this option agreement in place, Vestas has shown our willingness and commitment to making major investments benefiting the UK, but Vestas alone cannot make it happen.''

The company said the plan was reliant on market and regulatory certainty and public investment to reduce the risk of building a facility of such a size.

Anders Soe-Jensen, president of Vestas Offshore A/S, said: ''We have shown our intentions to make major investments and subsequent job creation, but it is evident that we don't just jump head-first into an investment of this size.

''We need to make sure it makes sense business-wise.

''Before our customers can provide us with the needed order pipeline, they need to see stability in the market and a long-term political and regulatory certainty that ensures their business case.

''Making that happen lies in the hands of the policy-makers, so we are looking forward to seeing the UK Government providing the best possible terms for the offshore wind industry to truly take off and the potential jobs becoming a reality.''

Energy Minister Charles Hendry said: ''I want the UK to be the number one destination for investing in offshore wind and the development of a renewables supply chain.

''We are reforming the electricity market to provide exactly the kind of long-term certainty investors in low-carbon energy need.

''This announcement shows confidence in the UK as a place to do business in the offshore wind sector, and confidence in the UK's potential as a strong manufacturing base.''

Industry body RenewableUK said that if the Government took action on planning policy, financial support and development of the grid, the UK could solidify its lead in offshore wind and become a ''formidable manufacturing force in one of the world's most cutting edge energy sectors''.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said: ''We have an unprecedented situation where some of the best known companies in the world are literally queuing up to invest in the UK.

''The Government now needs to seal the deal on offshore: it needs to bag the first 8,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds already pledged, by firmly supporting the technology.''

The announcement comes just days after the Government's climate advisers indicated ministers should slow the planned roll-out of offshore wind because of its expense, ''moderating'' ambition so that fewer turbines are installed before 2020 - but that support for the technology should continue into the next decade.