Areva to site wind turbine factory in Scotland

offshore wind generic
Image caption Areva has agreed to locate its UK wind turbine manufacturing operations in Scotland

One of Europe's largest offshore wind energy companies has confirmed it will locate its UK turbine manufacturing site in Scotland.

French firm Areva has signed an agreement with Scottish Enterprise.

The announcement was made during a visit by First Minister Alex Salmond to Paris.

He told BBC Scotland the deal could create up to 750 jobs in manufacturing and others which will come through the supporting supply chain.

Areva describes itself as a "global leader in nuclear energy and a major player in renewable energies".

The strategic agreement signed by the energy firm outlines its intention to locate nacelle (turbine operation) and blade manufacturing facilities in Scotland.

The company is looking in detail at the offshore locations in Scotland's National Renewables Infrastructure Plan (NRI-P), which offer the biggest potential for investors in offshore development.

Inward investment

The agreement was signed by Areva CEO Luc Oursel and the chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, Lena Wilson, and was witnessed by the first minister at a meeting on Monday morning.

Mr Salmond said: "Scotland shares Areva's vision of a cleaner tomorrow. Today's announcement provides a further boost to Scotland's position as one of Europe's key locations for offshore wind and takes us another significant step further in achieving our ambitious carbon reduction target.

"The manufacturing of nacelles and blades for these turbines in Scotland will deliver nationwide economic benefits as well as much welcome inward investment to the chosen location once that has been agreed.

"This is another powerful example of how attractive Scotland is for international investors - and is indicative of our shared energy future."

Luc Oursel, CEO of Areva, said: "Areva's industrial heritage and diverse portfolio has placed us firmly at the forefront of low carbon technological solutions.

"Scotland is known to be a pioneer in renewables and its commitment to offshore wind in particular was a key part of our decision to locate our future UK manufacturing base there. This new facility is part of Areva's strategy to establish a manufacturing footprint that will cover the European market."

The Scottish government said the location of additional turbine manufacturing in Scotland would increase the economic growth potential from renewable energy.

Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson added: "This announcement further demonstrates Scotland's position as a leading contributor to the low carbon agenda and ambition to deliver safe and sustainable energy through advanced technology.

"Offshore wind is a key driver of the economic benefit of renewables and we will continue to work closely with Areva to support its development plans in Scotland and create ongoing opportunities for wider industry growth."

The announcement by Areva was also welcomed by the UK government.

Prime Minister David Cameron described it as "brilliant news for Scotland".

He added: "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 is now the world's biggest offshore wind market."

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