The loss of a state asset and the loss of jobs
First published on YoursForScotland.com
Offshore wind should see Scotland benefit from its natural resource and it’s people have access to affordable fuel. Moreover, it should provide for Scottish businesses to benefit from its location and create jobs for Scottish workers.
But one windfarm situated just off the coast of Fife shows the failure of UK and Scottish Governments to achieve that. It also highlights the absurdity of ownership being with foreign state-owned companies and jobs going to businesses outside Scotland and to foreign workers.
Neart na Gaoithe is the site of an offshore wind farm situated just 15.5 kilometres off the coast of Fife and covering an area of 105 square kilometres. It will produce up to 450 Mega Watts from its 54 turbines enough energy to power around 375,000 homes. The energy will be landed in East Lothian where work is ongoing near Torness.
The site is jointly owned by ESB Energy and EDF Renewables UK. EDF Renewables is a wholly owned subsidiary of theEDF Group, Electricite de France the French state-owned power company. Electricity Supply Board, ESB, is the state-owned electricity company of the Republic of Ireland.
So, ownership of an asset just over ten miles from the coast of Fife lies with State-owned companies with profits not going to Edinburgh or even London, but instead to Paris and Dublin.
What about the businesses to supply it and the jobs to be created by it? Where are they going?
Fife is home to BiFab but no turbines are being constructed there for the site. Instead, they are being manufactured by Siemens Gamesa at Hull on the Humber. The turbines will be assembled at the Port of Dundee, but the high value contract and the high paid jobs are in construction not assembly.
The foundations for the turbines will be supplied and installed by Saipem. Saipem is a company subject to the joint control of Eni Spa and CDP Equity Spa. Eni Spa is an Italian energy company and CDP Equity is an Italian sovereign wealth fund
The wind turbines are only being assembled at the Port of Dundee they are then transported by Fred Olsen Ocean windcarriers, which is subsidiary of Bonheur, an Oslo listed holding company of the Fred Olsen Group.
DEME Offshore, a Belgian solutions provider in the renewables industry, is installing the inter-array and interconnector cables. This will include 12 separate 66 kilovolt array strings which will connect the wind turbines generator to the offshore substations. The interconnector will connect the offshore substations together allowing the wind turbines to export electricity through the cables.
The contracts aren’t coming to Scotland but what about the jobs?
NnG operations will be based out of Eyemouth, although some preparatory maritime works are operating out of Montrose. The offshore wind farm is in Scottish and UK territorial waters. But UK crew are currently being paid off and cheaper foreign crews are being recruited.
The Solstad Offshore vessel, Normand Navigator involved with the Neart na Goaithe (NnG) Offshore wind farm project has just terminated the contracts of UK national seafarers in favour of foreign workers. UK nationals were hired to replace crew members from the Philippines as the deadline of the “Offshore wind workers Immigration Rules concession 2017” was approaching.
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