MINISTERS have been criticised for an “abject failure” over its 2020 ‘green capital of Europe’ revolution which has produced as little as five per cent of the low carbon jobs it forecast.
The Herald on Sunday can reveal that what was initially a taxpayer-backed £70m investment fund to finance the offshore wind sector turned to what one union official described as “a farce” with just £6m paid out to one company promising 500 jobs in six years. And £2.44m of that had to be paid back the following year when it decided to exit the offshore wind sector.
While the Scottish Government was predicting 11 years ago that there would
be 28,000 Scottish jobs in the offshore wind industry alone by 2020 as the
nation takes advantage of its benefits – the latest workforce data for 2019
shows it stands at just 1400.
It comes as concerns persist over the continuing ‘mothballing’ of the UK’s
only facility for manufacturing onshore and offshore wind towers in
Machrihanish, Argyllshire, owned by South Korea-owned CS Wind UK.
It comes six months after administrators were formally appointed to take
control of part state-owned Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab), the insolvent
renewables manufacturer run from Canada seen as a key part of the future of
Scotland’s wind farm revolution.
Deloitte took control of affairs of BiFab after it collapsed when the
Scottish Government did a u-turn in backing the firm.
Two of the three BiFab fabrication yards – Methil in Fife and Arnish on
Lewis – have since been bought out of administration by London-based firm
InfraStrata. The former BiFab fabrication yard at Burntisland in Fife was
not part of the deal and has since sprung back to life under Forth Ports
ownership, with Aberdeen-based dive systems specialist Orca Oceanic Systems
setting up an operations facility.
Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty who has been fighting for a fairer
deal over green jobs said:”It’s absolutely staggering that based on how the
offshore wind sector is supposed to be the jewel in Scotland’s renewables
revolution that only 1400 jobs were estimated to have been directly created
in 2019.
“When you factor into that the dismal picture that the Scottish Government
projected 28,000 jobs to have been created by now, and that only 400 more
jobs have been created since 2014 then you begin to appreciate the abject
failure of government policy at the Scottish and UK level.
“CS Wind in Machrihanish, which manufactures onshore and offshore wind
turbines has been mothballed by its Korean owners.
“And we also have had the well documented challenges facing the BiFab yards
in Fife and Arnish.
“However, what we don’t hear about is the success stories of Scottish based
manufacturers and supply chain companies because there aren’t any. Billions
of pounds worth of renewables contracts have been awarded with minimal
benefits to local and regional supply chains which is why government action
must be taken to enforce local content clauses into all contracts alongside
strategic support for the those companies based in Scotland to develop and
grow.”
Ministers championed the desire for the nation to cash in on low carbon in
2010 and 2011 – saying Scotland can be the “green energy capital of Europe”
with a workforce rising to 130,000 and offshore wind alone bringing in an
estimated £30bn in inward investment.
Office for National Statistics figures produced from a low carbon and
renewable energy economy survey show that in Scotland there were just
21,400 jobs in the low carbon and renewable energy economy – including
businesses specialising in offshore and onshore wind, hydropower, carbon
capture, alternative fuels, energy efficient lighting, low emission vehicles.
Twelve years ago, the potential wind and marine energy power in the
Pentland Firth – where the north-east Atlantic meets the North Sea – led
the then Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond to dub it the “Saudi Arabia
of Renewables” with BiFab at the time making turbines for offshore wind farms.
In November, 2010, First Minister Alex Salmond, first announced a £70m
investment fund to finance the offshore wind sector.
He said it could create up to 28,000 jobs and add £7.1 billion in value to
Scotland’s economy over 10 years.
Two months earlier, he told financiers that innovation and advances in
clean green energy present a “pivotal turning point in human history”.
Opening the Scottish Low Carbon Investment conference in Edinburgh, he
urged private finance leaders to seize the multi-billion pound
opportunities arising from the renewable and low carbon technology revolution.
He unveiled an industry-led Offshore Wind Route Map, setting out the key
actions required in the coming years to fully realise the huge potential
around the coast of Scotland – estimated at that time to have a quarter of
Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal capacity and a tenth of its wave
resource.
He announced: “This is more than a once-in-a-generation opportunity such as
North Sea Oil and Gas was.”
The Scottish Government’s low carbon strategy published in 2010 described
the large scale development of offshore wind as representing the “biggest
opportunity for sustainable economic growth in Scotland for a generation”
with Scotland having an estimated 25% of Europe’s offshore wind potential.
But the Herald on Sunday can reveal that the POWERS fund that was
eventually launched in 2011 and overseen by Scottish Enterprise for £35m,
only awarded one £6m grant during its six years.
Samsung Heavy Industries won the award in October, 2013 towards the £47m
capital cost of building their 7MW prototype turbine at Energy Park Fife.
It was billed by Scottish Enterprise as the largest and most powerful
offshore wind turbine who said it had the backing of Mr Salmond “whose
government wants all Scotland’s electricity to come from renewables by 2020″.
The Korean company was said to have invested £70million in the Fife wind
turbine demonstrator scheme, and Scottish Enterprise said it had the
potential to create up to 500 jobs in Scotland.
Alex Salmond said of SHI’s move to base its first European offshore wind
project in Fife in an inward venture championed as worth up to £100m: “I am
extremely pleased to welcome this inward investment by SHI which further
reinforces Scotland’s place in the development of the next generation of
offshore wind turbines.
“Their choice of Scotland as their first base in Europe for renewable
technology development is testament to the fact this country is fast
becoming the European centre for research and development in new offshore
wind technologies.”
Insik Roh, chief executive of Samsung Heavy Industries, said at the time:
“The testing of the new 7MW offshore wind turbine at the Fife Energy Park
signifies a milestone in the development of Samsung’s new wind turbine
generator system. We hope to contribute to the Scottish economy through
successful testing and certification of our cutting edge offshore wind
turbine and ultimately through establishment of our manufacturing facility
here in Methil.”
Scottish Enterprise announced at the time: “SHI said that, following a
successful testing period, it will work to attract orders for its turbines.
This would allow it to build a world-class manufacturing facility at Energy
Park Fife.
“SHI, which wants to become a leading player in the European offshore wind
sector, has been manufacturing 2.5MW wind turbines for four years and
already has turbines installed in Korea, the US and Canada.
“It chose to base its European operation at Energy Park Fife because of the
area’s growing energy cluster and the huge opportunities this presents for
supply chain companies, particularly those involved in the offshore wind
sector.”
But the 500 jobs did not materialise.
Scottish Enterprise says that in late 2014 the company took a “strategic
decision” to exit the offshore wind sector and wind down its offshore wind
business.
The turbine was acquired by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in 2015
and rebranded the Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine. It currently employs
five people.
Scottish Enterprise said that £2.44m of the £6m award was paid back saying:
“It would have been as a result of Samsung not fully meeting the conditions
of the funding.” It did not know how many jobs had been created by existing
turbine.
Charles Thompson of Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult said: “Since ORE
Catapult acquired the Levenmouth turbine in 2016, more than 200 small
businesses have benefitted from its facilities and data to develop and
demonstrate innovative products and services for the renewable energy
market. It is a globally unique facility that directly helps Scottish
businesses to grow in the fast-growing green energy industries.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting
Scottish supply chain growth and to utilising every lever at our disposal
to increase local content in offshore wind projects, and welcome the UK
Government’s commitment to changes to the Contracts for Difference supply
chain plan process. The introduction of Supply Chain Development Statements
by Crown Estate Scotland, as part of the ScotWind leasing round, will help
to release economic benefits for the Scottish economy and we expect
developers to honour their commitments.
“Through our £100m Green Jobs Fund and other mechanisms at our disposal, we
will make investments to support Scotland’s supply chain, empowering
businesses and workers to take advantage of the opportunities arising from
Scotland’s just transition to net zero.”

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