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Scotland takes advantage of Westminster's mixed messages

In contrast to the mixed messages coming from Westminster in recent times that many believe have constrained renewable energy development in parts of the UK, Scotland has made its renewable energy aspirations clear, with some eye catching announcements. Not least its recent MOU with Areva: The MoU is a step towards establishing a factory in Scotland that will manufacture the company’s 5MW turbines for offshore projects in the United Kingdom, Areva has announced, complementing its Le Havre facilities that will supply France, Belgium and more southerly UK projects.

This latest announement is the latest in a number of positive steps for Scotland and its renewable energy ambitions.

Back in January, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond tied up a deal with Abu Dhabi powerhouse Masdar, outlining a detailed plan for clean and renewable energy projects.

The agreement, which was signed at last year's World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi, UAE, focused on development opportunities, investment in low carbon projects, technological cooperation, policy making and best practice initiatives. With Masdar's growing place in the world of clean energy, it was an inspired bit of PR if nothing else.

Closer to home, Areva isn't the first organisation to be attracted to Scotland. Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) announced earlier this year that it plans to place its first European offshore wind project in Methil, Fife, in Scotland, creating over 500 jobs - in addition to Gamesa and Mitsubishi. Burcote Wind has also said it plans to invest £1 billion in 10 wind farms across Scotland, which could create nearly 600 jobs.

And Scotland has also launched a marine energy park.

David Cameron may well try to put a brave face on the latest announcement, especially when taken in context with the Scottish Independence debate, but the fact that Alex Salmond has managed to pull off another coup is no great surprise.

RenewableUK's chief executive Maria McCaffery recently added her voice to the chorus, saying "it’s now time for the UK Government to nail its colours to the mast and make sure these planned investments come to fruition. We need to put the recent political spats over energy policy behind us and focus on what we need most – jobs, investment and securing a way of generating clean energy on an unprecedented scale”.

But the fact is Scotland's politicians have been outwardly supportive of wind development, at a time when the UK has sent mixed messages to the wind industry - and new UK Energy minister John Hayes continues to voice his opposition to wind. So who can blame Areva for seeking the solace of Scotland?

UPDATE 23/11/2012: Click here for news of the UK Energy Bill announcement which came out today.

Posted 20/11/2012 by David Hopwood

Tagged under: Scotland , Wind , Windpower , Areva

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