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27 Oct 2010 02:10:17

Mitsubishi to open new UK wind factory

Mitsubishi joins Siemens, General Electric and Gamesa in their plans to opening new UK wind turbine factories following the announcement of £60m funding.

Siemens, General Electric, Mitsubishi Power Systems (MPS) and Spanish manufacturer Gamesa all confirmed this week that they will open wind turbine factories 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.

Siemens has still to decide where it will build the UK wind turbine factory that is expected to create up to 700 jobs through an £80m investment. However, it is considering the East and North East coastline as preferred sites. 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.

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

The new wind 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.

Mitsubishi Power Systems (MPS) has today become the latest wind turbine manufacturer to reaffirm its plans to open a new wind factory in the UK. A spokesman from MPS Europe confirmed the company's plan to invest £100m in a UK R&D facility remains on track.

Unlike its rivals, Mitsubishi insisted that its proposed investment on a UK wind turbine factory was never in danger of being withdrawn as a result of the port programme's inclusion in last week's Comprehensive Spending Review. A spokesman from Mitsubishi said "We very much welcome the news as an indication of the government's support for offshore wind, but it doesn't directly affect what we're doing."

Mitsubishi is planning to make a more detailed announcement on the plans for its R&D facility in the coming months. The location of the wind factory is yet to be announced, but it is expected to develop prototypes for large offshore wind turbines boasting a capacity of up to 7MW.

The announcement follows a summer of uncertainty for the UK's offshore wind industry, until finally last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced that £200m would be made available for low-carbon infrastructure projects, including funding for the port programme.

Following this announcement, Energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne confirmed this week that the spending review would ensure that the full £60m of funding to support offshore wind farms would still be delivered.

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