Around 100 people from the renewables sector, politics and education and research gathered together on Monday for the launch of the takeover of the Levenmouth 7MW off-shore turbine.
The structure, the biggest of its kind in the world, was erected by Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) back in 2012, and it had been hoped that the demonstrator would lead to the promise of jobs for the Levenmouth area, with a manufacturing plant right on the Forth coast.
But this week heralded the start of a new chapter for the turbine, which is now under the ownership of the Off-shore Renewables Energy (ORE) Catapult, which has projects right across the UK and is based in Glasgow.
The group is the UK’s flagship technology innovation and research centre for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy, and will use the turbine as a research facility, offering those from the renewables sector and academia the chance to experience how these structures work and how best to reduce the cost of producing electricity from renewables, leading to the creation of more jobs.
The takeover was officially marked by Fergus Ewing, minister for energy, who heralded it as “a great day for Fife, and a great day for Scotland”.
He added: “What we’re doing here is trying to generate a future for our young people. They will create the future by their interest in pursing STEM topics at school, but also in pursing careers in renewbles.
“Scotland has been at the forefront of potraying a very clear commitment to renewables and that commitment has allowed us to secure investment from all over the world. We are at the forefront and we intend to stay there.”
Andrew Jamieson, CEO of ORE Catapult, explained that the turbine will now play a “major part” in the development of future technologies, adding: “It offers opportunities for the UK supply chain and technology development and, sitting so prominently at the heart of the Levenmouth communities, it is vital that the turbine also plays a role locally developing and supporting the next generation of Scottish engineers.”
He recognised that some in Levenmouth would be disappointed that the hope of jobs through SHI had not been realised, but assured locals that the opportunity for learning is there.
“Joining up the dots between what young people think they are looking for in the future, and what businesses will need is important, because that’s quite often a gap, and a young person might see that there’s a job out there they had never thought about before.
“So no, it isn’t a manufacturing plant, but it is a tremendous opportunity for young people, and for Fife do continue doing what it’s done for a long, long time, which is to provide jobs and training in energy.”
Mr Jamieson said there had already been a huge amount of interest in the facility from researchers across Europe.
“This turbine literally acts as a flag for the international community to come here and join us on the research programmes which should ultimately lead to more support for training and careers in energy.”
Councillor Tom Adams, chairman of the area committee, attended the launch and said: “I hugely welcome this. It’s brilliant that ORE has come in and taken the turbine over, and a lot of this would not have gone ahead without the support of the area committee.”
David Torrance MSP, said it was “very good for the area”, adding: “This will encourage local people to skill up for this sector, and will provide everyone with the opportunity to be a part of it.”
And Lesley Laird, Fife Council’s depute leader and executive spokesman for economy and planning, commented: “Fife already enjoys a reputation as a centre of excellence for research and engineering. We want to continue and build upon that reputation at a global level.
We will continue to do everything we can to encourage and support inward investment into Fife.”