A £100 million vision for an offshore wind turbine factory in Methil which was expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the area has been left in tatters amid reports that the main investor has pulled out, in the latest blow to Scotland's renewables industry.


Engineering giant Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) is understood to have axed plans for a turbine manufacturing plant in the Fife town just three years after then First Minister Alex Salmond announced the deal - backed by £8m of Scottish Enterprise money - would create the "next generation" of offshore wind power.

In the end, the South Korean firm only created 20 research and develop jobs, and is now in talks to sell-off the 7MW turbine which it erected on the Forth in 2013.

Glasgow-based Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult confirmed that it was in negotiation with the firm about "potentially acquiring" the giant turbine, the largest of its kind in the world, for research purposes.

In a statement, ORE Catapult said the Methil turbine "would provide UK industry and academia with unrivalled opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of operations and maintenance of offshore wind turbines and thus drive down the cost of delivering clean energy from offshore wind".

The proposed sell-off appears to signal the end of plans to build a turbine factory on vacant land nearby, scuppering the promise of 500 new jobs in one of Scotland's most deprived areas.

The base was set to house gearbox assembly and blade manufacturing facilities as part of a multi-million pound deal Samsung signed with East Kilbride-based David Brown Gear Systems, which is now owned by Finnish renewables specialists Moventas.

Gina Hanrahan, climate and policy officer for WWF Scotland, said it would be a "great shame" if Samsung pulled out.

She said: "There's a massive potential to generate clean energy and create jobs from the off shore wind resource around Scotland's coastline. It'd therefore be a great shame indeed if Samsung Heavy Industries were to decide to pull out of the site in Methil.

"That there's been an expression of interest in acquiring the prototype offshore turbine at the site is encouraging, especially if this resulted in benefits to all those involved in the offshore wind industry."

The apparent disintegration of the scheme comes months after Edinburgh-based Pelamis Wave Power folded after failing to attract enough funding to develop its technology.

The firm entered administration in November.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Enterprise, which had backed the Methil initiative, said: "We are in active discussions with SHI and ORE Catapult with a view to ensuring a positive outcome is achieved for all parties. "Alongside our partners, we remain committed to growing the offshore wind sector through a number of key initiatives."

A spokesman for the Scottish Government added: "We understand that ORE Catapult are in advanced discussion to take ownership of the facility which will establish world-leading test facilities in Fife. The significant investment that has been made in the development of the test turbine, which has included an estimated £23m of direct investment into Scotland - benefitting a number of supply chain companies involved in the turbine's construction. We will continue dialogue with Samsung, ORE Catapult and Fife Council on the future of the site, as negotiations progress."

Samsung Heavy Industries did not respond to a request for comment.