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Wind deal brings 750 jobs

A European offshore wind company will locate its UK turbine manufacturing base in Scotland, creating up to 750 jobs.

French firm Areva is looking to locate the company's nacelle, or turbine, operation and blade manufacturing facilities in the east of the country, at a site yet to be decided.

The company, which is still examining several offshore locations named in the national renewables infrastructure plan, said the jobs could be created from manufacturing and the supporting supply chain.

Chief executive Luc Oursel said: "Scotland is known to be a pioneer in renewables and its commitment to offshore wind in particular was a key part of our decision to locate our future UK manufacturing base there.

"This new facility is part of Areva's strategy to establish a manufacturing footprint that will cover the European market."

The announcement was made following an agreement with Scottish Enterprise at a meeting in Paris.

First Minister Alex Salmond, who was at the meeting, said: "Scotland shares Areva's vision of a cleaner tomorrow. Today's announcement provides a further boost to Scotland's position as one of Europe's key locations for offshore wind and takes us another significant step further in achieving our ambitious carbon-reduction target."

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: "This announcement further demonstrates Scotland's position as a leading contributor to the low-carbon agenda and ambition to deliver safe and sustainable energy through advanced technology.

"Offshore wind is a key driver of the economic benefit of renewables and we will continue to work closely with Areva to support its development plans in Scotland and create ongoing opportunities for wider industry growth."

Areva said it will manufacture its five-megawatt turbines in Scotland for offshore projects in the UK, complementing its base at Le Havre which will supply France, Belgium and more southerly UK projects.

A third base in Bremerhaven, Germany, will help establish an operation to cover the European market, the firm said.

Areva describes itself as one of the leading offshore wind suppliers in Europe.

In the UK, it is also involved in nuclear decommissioning.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of trade body RenewableUK, said: "Factories like those planned by Areva will provide the jobs of the future. Parents are asking where their children will find employment – the answer is in the renewable energy sector.

"Britain's offshore wind industry is on the threshold of delivering thousands of manufacturing jobs at a time when the country needs them most."

She said the announcement would "inspire confidence among the energy investor community at a crucial time as the much-anticipated Energy Bill is about to be published".

Prime Minister David Cameron said the news was "brilliant for Scotland".

He said: "I am determined that Britain competes and thrives in the global race, and this shows that the UK remains an attractive place for foreign investment.

"Growth of the renewable energy sector isn't just good for our environment, it's good for our economy too and, with more renewable energy deployed under three years of this Coalition Government than under 13 years of the previous government, the UK is now the world's biggest offshore wind market.

"Scotland benefits from UK-wide initiatives to promote renewables and access to the entire UK consumer market."

UK Energy Secretary Edward Davey said Areva's announcement was the latest sign the UK "is set to reap the economic benefits of being at the forefront of low-carbon energy".

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