Gary Smith, secretary of GMB Scotland: The recent events at Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) has brought the issue of jobs in renewable energy into focus. In the aftermath of the negotiations that staved off the threat of immediate closure, a question lingers: we’ve seen a spectacular growth in energy projects but where are the jobs? BiFab builds platforms for offshore wind turbines and tidal generators, as well as large-scale equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry. It employs more than 600 people. Alex Salmond once claimed that offshore wind was “the greatest industrial opportunity [for Scotland] since the early 1970s and the development of oil and gas”. But today the reality is that Scotland and the UK remain bit part players in the renewables sector. The Beatrice wind farm project is a case in point. The Â£2.6 billion development is funded by SSE, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and the Chinese-owned Red Rock Power. Fewer than 4 per cent of that value has gone back into Scottish manufacturing. BiFab produces jackets for just one third of the wind farm’s turbines. How has this happened? A fundamental problem is investment. The prospect of manufacturing 21st-century technology in 20th-century yards is not one that appeals to energy multinationals and their backers. We need manufacturing investment so we can compete on a level playing field with international competitors.
Times 1st Dec 2017 read more »