Colin Donald
Business Editor, Sunday Herald

Siemens, the dominant supplier of turbines to the UK’s onshore and offshore
wind market, is to expand its operations in Scotland by establishing a new
projects and construction hub in Livingston, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

The company, which already employs 600 people in Scotland in Aberdeen,
Leith, Cumbernauld and Wishaw, is “actively recruiting” to fill positions
for the new base, which will have capacity for 30 employees.

Grant Walker, Siemens managing director of onshore wind in Great Britain
and Ireland, said the investment would support about 100 jobs elsewhere,
“most of them in fields in the middle of Scotland or Ireland building wind
farms”.

He said: “The Scottish supply chain is something I’m really keen to build
up. The investment in Livingston will basically be a project and
construction hub for the business. We will have construction management, we
will have quality control, and health and safety all based in Livingston.
As a logistics base it will service the UK and Ireland.”

Walker added that Siemens is working with Strathclyde University on an
apprenticeship scheme. “We would like to get more installation technicians
into the company. Scotland is very much a long-term commitment for us,” he
said.

He also praised the Scottish ­Government’s role in promoting renewable
power, saying: “There is a clear commitment to renewable targets in
Scotland and clearly there is all the support that as an industry we could
look for. The time is right to show that we are committed to delivering the
technology … as a ­Scottish-born engineer I am proud of the way that we
have taken a lead.”

Siemens-built turbines already installed provide no less than 4.5GW or 45%
of the UK’s 10GW of installed capacity, a proportion that is expected to
expand as major offshore developments are built out. Currently most of the
output is from onshore turbines (2.3GW), but the ­proportion is expected to
diminish because offshore wind farms contain “larger machines, and more of
them”.

Teeside-based Walker, who hails from Coatbridge and is a chemical­
engineering graduate from Strathclyde University, was appointed head of
onshore wind for the UK and Ireland in February this year, having joined
Siemens UK in 2005. Prior to that he worked in senior roles in industry
including DuPont and ICI in the UK and US.

Scotland has been an early ­adopter of Siemens’ most advanced types of
gearless turbines, the 1.3M and 2.3M and, most recently, the 3DD (direct
drive) which has a tower of 94 metres (one-third higher than Edinburgh’s
Scott Monument), and a rotor ­diameter of 101m. “Among the first in the
world” of the giant models have already been installed at Millour Hill,
near Dalry in Ayrshire and Calder Water in South Lanarkshire. An even
larger 6MW Siemens turbine is currently being tested offshore near Hunterston.

Walker, who declined to comment on the potential effects of independence on
the energy market in Scotland, claimed their popularity north of the Border
was due to them being “particularly suited to the high and turbulent wind
conditions” here.

Siemens, which has operated in the UK for more than 100 years, has four
divisions active in Scotland: energy; industry; healthcare; and
infrastructure (notably rail) and cities.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “We welcome the
latest commitment from Siemens, which indicates a growing confidence in the
renewable energy industry in Scotland by major global players. Siemens is
one of several large international companies which have identified Scotland
as a world leader in renewables.”

A report last week from Audit Scotland found the Scottish Government had
made “steady progress” towards its renewable energy targets for 2020, but
noted the targets remained challenging. “We estimate that to meet the
renewable electricity target alone, average annual increases in installed
capacity need to double … The Scottish Government is two-fifths of the
way towards achieving its electricity target, but meeting it relies on the
continued expansion of wind technology, both on land and at sea.”


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