THE first visible signs of Samsung’s multi-millon pound show of faith in Methil could start to appear next year.
Subject to planning approval, it may be 2013 before the Far Eastern firm can start building the large wind turbine proposed for Fife Energy Park – with at least a year of testing to follow.
Levenmouth grabbed the national news spotlight last week as the Korean industrial giant Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) decided Methil would host its first offshore wind venture in Europe.
The company is committing up to £100 million to the project, in which it hopes to use Fife Energy Park as a test venue for a new 7MW wind turbine – which could be the most powerful of its kind in the world.
If the turbine is endorsed, there may be a minimum of one year of tests, in different seasonal and tidal conditions, before certification.
SHI also signed a deal with Huddersfield firm David Brown Gear Systems (David Brown), owned by East Kilbride-based Clyde Blowers, to supply gearboxes for the next-generation turbine.
If the tests are successful, it’s expected the gearbox systems will be constructed at Methil, in a newly-built assembly plant running parallel with the main operation.
It’s less clear, however, when jobs may materialise.
Samsung’s package proposed around 500 new jobs for Scotland – but how many of these will be created in Levenmouth, and when, is still not known.
Sources linked to the project told the Mail a planning application for the demonstration turbine may be submitted in the second quarter of this year.
Marine Scotland and other agencies, including the Scottish Government, will then assess the scheme, which could take around nine months, before it comes forward for approval.
The turbine would be built in Korea but it was uncertain how long it would take to construct, before the test period began.
It will replace the 185-metre turbine previously pledged by Dutch developer 2-B Energy, although Samsung’s will be virtually the same size and the same distance – around 20 metres – out to sea.
2-B Energy is now looking for another site for its turbine but Fife Council is continuing to work with the firm, because of its innovative ideas in design and cost-saving.
Those behind the Samsung scheme hope an efficient supply chain might mean more opportunities for local building of turbine components, compared to buying in pre-manufactured parts.
Supporters hailed the east of Scotland’s growing stature in the development of offshore wind technology and renewable energy – and said the Energy Park was crucial.
Lena Wilson, Scottish Enterprise chief executive, said: “We acquired the site in Fife six years ago and, alongside Fife Council, have invested some £17 million to date to develop the industrial land into a 21st century facility for the developing renewables sector.
“We will work closely with SHI and look to enhance the Energy Park further, to ensure it offers the very best facilities for offshore wind manufacturing and assembly.”
Readers on the Mail’s Facebook page warned of Fife’s previous ill-fated dealings with Canon and Hyundai, while skilled workers may be brought in from outside. Others reckoned investment in Scotland would lead to some training opportunities and local employment.
Politicians unanimous in welcome for investment
Lindsay Roy, Glenrothes and Central Fife MP: “I hope this ambitious project will be viable and the tests and demonstrations will go well, hence fulfilling the promise of hundreds of job opportunities. We must do everything we can to ensure as many new jobs at the Energy Park are taken up by skilled local people.”
Tricia Marwick, MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes: “This is fantastic news for both Levenmouth and Fife. Fife Energy Park is the jewel in the crown of Levenmouth. It remains vital for the regeneration of the area and this decision by SHI to locate in Levenmouth shows Fife Energy Park is one of the premier renewable energy locations in Scotland.”
Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and Mid Scotland and Fife MSP: “Fife’s skilled workforce and the suitability of local facilities makes it well placed to have a bright future in renewable energy. ”
John Park, Labour MSP, Mid Scotland and Fife: “I hope this off-shore project will bring quality full-time, permanent jobs for the people of Methil and Fife, that Samsung is here for the long-term, and that we will not end up with a reliance on sub-contractors, as happened all too often in the oil and gas sector previously.”
The view on the street
“Will it bring jobs to Fife?
“I think it will be good if it gets jobs into this area.
“I have two grandsons and they can’t find work in Fife.”
Robert Brown (77), Leven
“I think this is great news, if it’s going to bring more jobs to the area.
“I’ve got no problems with wind turbines, if they bring money to the area and put people in employment.”
Marsha Murray (32), Methil
“Wind turbines are a waste of time.
“Tidal power would be much more efficient – it’s not dependent on weather and wouldn’t have the same impact on the scenery. I’d be surprised if it brings many jobs, if any.”
Jim Nelson (70), Buckhaven
“It’s absolutely brilliant.
“The more employment the better.
“Hopefully it will make people in Leven a bit more prosperous.
“I’m pretty confident it will happen.
Catherine Maclean (70), Leven
“We need as much opportunity here as possible.
“Hopefully it will help to revive Leven High Street as well and help local businesses too.
Rosalind Dow (44), Kennoway