The wind turbine manufacturer says it could create thousands of jobs but warns that policy uncertainty may kill off the project.
The world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer is offering to create over 2,000 jobs at the Kent port of Sheerness but warned the green energy project could be killed off by any uncertainty over government policies.
Vestas has obtained exclusive rights to land – the equivalent to 93 football pitches – that would enable it to construct a huge new production facility to build a generation of mega-turbines to be used in the North Sea.
“Before our customers can provide us with the needed order pipeline, they need stability in the market and a long-term political and regulatory certainty that ensures their business case,” said Anders Soe-Jensen, president of Vestas Offshore.
“Making that happen lies in the hands of policy makers, so we are looking forward to seeing the UK government providing the best possible terms for the offshore wind market to truly take off and the potential jobs becoming a reality,” he added.
The Vestas executive said the timing of a report from the government-established climate change committee on Monday which raised questions about the high cost of offshore wind “could not be worse for us.” Soe-Jensen warned it would be a “shame” if a great new job opportunity at Sheerness was lost.
But he remained optimistic that Vestas could obtain the orders from the deep sea “Round 3” projects that would allow the Danish-based company to build vast new turbines that would be as tall as the “Gherkin” office block in the City of London.
Vestas has also built a new research and development centre on the Isle of Wight but created controversy when it closed a facility for building smaller turbines in the summer of 2009.
The renewable energy sector worldwide has been facing tougher times as politicians worry about wider budget cutbacks and seek to reduce subsidies to wind and solar despite a continuing desire to cut carbon emissions and tackle global warming.
But there was a boost on Tuesday from Japan where the prime minister promised to scrap a plan to obtain half of its electricity from nuclear power and said it would promote renewable energy as a result of its nuclear crisis.
Naoto Kan said Japan needed to “start from scratch” on its long-term energy policy after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was heavily damaged by a 11 March earthquake and began leaking radiation.
A United Nations report out earlier this week predicted that if the regulatory and other conditions were right renewables could provide 80% of all the world’s energy needs after 2050.