Senior ministers including the prime minister have welcomed plans by AREVA to build a wind turbine factory in Scotland.
Scottish first minister Alex Salmond today signed a memorandum of understanding with the company in Parispledging to find a site for the factory in the East of Scotland.
The project promises to create 750 jobs directly and many more in the supply chain at the site which will provide a base for installing finished turbines in the North Sea.
AREVA will be joining a growing cluster of companies in the off-shore wind sector around the Firth of Forth including Samsung and Mitsubishi.
Prime minster David Cameron heralded the announcement as a vote of confidence in the UK renewables sector and a sign that the government’s policy to boost the deployment of renewable energy technologies is working.
He said: “I am determined that Britain competes and thrives in the global race and this shows that the UK remains an attractive place for foreign investment.
“Growth of the renewable energy sector isn’t just good for our environment, it’s good for our economy too, and with more renewable energy deployed under three years of this coalition government than under 13 years of the previous government, the UK in now the world’s biggest offshore wind market.”
Energy secretary Ed Davey added: “Offshore wind is a multi-billion point opportunity for UK plc, which we must seize with both hands.
“With the biggest market in the world, a world-class skills base, and one of the best natural wind resources available anywhere, theUKis extremely well-placed to continue to lead the world in developing this technology.”
Wind, wave and tidal trade body RenewableUK said that the plans would ensure a healthy future for manufacturing in the UK at a time of high unemployment.
It also urges the government to work hard to turn the project into a reality in order to re-affirm its commitment to supporting off-shore wind following much-publicised anti-wind sentiments from energy minister John Hayes.
Maria McCaffery, RenewableUK’s chief executive, said: “Factories like those planned by AREVA will provide the jobs of the future. Parents are asking where their children will find employment – the answer is in the renewable energy sector.
“Today’s announcement by AREVA is the latest in a series of commitments by big companies determined to seize the opportunity to maintain Britain’s worldwide lead in offshore wind. It provides tangible proof of the growing importance of renewables to the UK’s industrial base.
“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.”