The UK’s burgeoning renewable energy industry received a boost today with the opening of a £38m wind turbine tower manufacturing facility in Wales.
Minister for energy and climate change Charles Hendry officially opened the Mabey Bridge factory in Chepstow, which will provide 240 skilled jobs and secure the near-term future of the sole UK-based manufacturer of wind turbine towers.
The new Bevil Mabey Structural Steelworks, which can produce up to 300 towers a year, marks the culmination of the 162-year-old bridge-building firm’s move into the renewables sector.
Peter Lloyd, managing director of Mabey Bridge, said: ‘This is a very exciting day for Mabey Bridge, for UK manufacturing and for the renewables sector.
‘No longer will companies in this country have to import wind turbine towers but instead they can now buy British.’
Mabey Bridge last year secured a preferred supplier agreement with UK wind energy supplier REpower and is already producing nine steel tubular towers for the company.
Each completed tower is 80m long, is made up of three sections and weighs 150 tonnes. Five towers will be stationed at the Seamer wind farm in North Yorkshire while four will also go to the Marr wind farm in South Yorkshire.
‘This is exactly the kind of investment, generating green jobs, that we want to see as the UK supply chain develops,’ said Hendry.
‘This investment is a great sign of confidence in the skills of the UK and South Wales in particular. Today’s inauguration is a huge step forward for the renewables industry in Wales and the UK sector as a whole.’
Rick Eggleston, managing director of REpower UK, said: ‘We have been consistently impressed with the high quality of product at Mabey Bridge. Local procurement of the towers from a reliable UK manufacturer makes sense.’
Maria McCaffery, chief executive officer at RenewableUK, said: ‘This is an exciting landmark for the low-carbon economy as it heralds the return of turbine manufacture to these shores.
‘Britain is the windiest country in Europe and it rightly has ambitious plans to deliver a low-carbon economy by 2020. Mabey Bridge’s new plant will play a major role in that.’