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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation, keynote presentations and workshops for corporate organisations on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. He operated at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book. Journalist and Broadcaster. After-dinner speaker and presenter.
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Thursday, 23 July 2009
Swan Song for Vestas. Edward Miliband takes to Blowing in the Wind
This is from the Guardianeco excellent website http://bit.ly/3yhzvy and at their invitation I've added a few DUCKHOUSE comments. Really can't believe Ed Miliband believes his own hype, but obviously does!
I won't be invited to the Lablist Garden Party that's for certain ....
Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Climate Change & Energy writes:
Seumas Milne draws attention to the issue of the Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight. But he misses the reality of the problems faced by Vestas and hence the real solutions.
The factory makes onshore wind turbine blades, not for Britain and Europe but a different-sized turbine designed for the United States. Currently, its turbines are shipped to the US, and it has now opened a US facility to serve that market.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: Due to the dire state of sterling against the US$, no wonder production has been moved by this US company, using US moulds and US expertise to the States where unemployment is around 11 percent, a skilled and eager workforcecan be rapidly assembled from former car workers and factory overheads generally are a fraction of the cost of operating in the overtaxed UK. The Secretary of State will have to do much better than this. I am happy to debate this with him publicly, so far not very impressed, does not appear to be in command of his brief.
For some months, we have worked with the company to understand what would be required for them to convert their factory to making onshore blades for the UK market. The issue for them [Vestas] was not subsidies from government but how they could get sufficient volumes of orders for the future.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: It would take an experienced interim management consultant no more than two weeks [10 working days] to deliver a fully fleshed out and highly detailed report on the future of this operation. This concept of working with the company sounds good but is patent political hogwash. Means nothing in commercial terms. Miliband and co. might have had some meetings and shuffled a few papers around but this turkey with US stockholders in the background, was never going to fly solo without a bouyant market for its end product. Political uncertainty in the UK may mean Windpowerm takes a back seat when the new government is elected next year.
Despite a 67% increase in offshore wind generation last year and 29% increase in onshore wind, they do not yet have sufficient orders. We need to grow the market further to help, and central to that, as Vestas have said, is planning.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: When will politicians learn that percentages mean nothing, wind power will never be a major contributor and in any case logically needs a constant stream of wind. From my front door in Cambridgeshire, England [see picture above] I can see beyond a river and fenland fields; four such windmills, servicing a factory about three miles away. The factory makes McCains potato chips for McDonalds, no less.. I estimate 3 days out of seven the blades are turning. A forth wind turbine had to be closed down last winter during the great freeze as great sheets of pack ice were flying off the rotating blades and theatening to decapitate the unsuspecting residents of Whittlesea as they shopped! The owners said this was impossible and initially refused to believe this could happen until one resident produced a large sheet of ice which landed yards in front of him and he with fellow workers put the 'evidence' into his commercial cold room!
Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Vestas, described Britain as "probably one of the most difficult places in the world to get permission". That is why the planning rules are being changed by the government from April next year. As we all know, the rules matter, but so does public opposition or support.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: Engel is only just finding that out now? This lacklustre government has had ten years and in its terminal days is now finally changing the planning rules? Not that it matters because Miliband and co will be out of office so no one is losing any sleep over this.
We are unlikely to be a centre for onshore wind production, if up and down the country, and indeed on the Isle of Wight, onshore wind applications are consistently turned down. So we have to win a political argument that environmentally and industrially, onshore wind is part of the solution.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: You could say the message is finally getting through, the public recognise a duck, it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and it is a duck. Not a Swan as Vestas would have you believe. Still if miliband had bee on top of his brief, he would have put more positive ammunition into his statement. It is not backed up by any facts as to how much in money terms the whole wind farm industry is really worth; as it stands it'll cost more per unit to produce wind originated energy as conventional or nuclear plants will have to cut in every time the wind drops ....no way to run a country! Let the factory close, no good can come of it in the present situation.
In the meantime, there must be a strategy for the Isle of Wight to do all we can to help and there is. Not just support for the workers who are losing their jobs, but a strategy to work with Vestas. They are keeping a prototype facility at the factory and we are currently considering an application from them for government help to test and develop offshore wind blades in a facility which would employ 150 people on the Isle of Wight initially and potentially more later.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: Its a shame when politicans are so not interested in the mundane day to day job of government but thinking of their long summer break (not back until October!) not even bothered to take out the Americanism "a facility" and current events show that the existing redundant workforce are not that fond of the management. Sit ins and way over the top policing, Now I hear that fences are being errected with the workers inside 'being starved out' and taken to court. Certianly a new variation on the G20 'Kettling' operation and hopefully the police will play no part in preventing a peaceful demonstration by supporters. It seems that the workforce had no union representation but at the eleventh hour RMT has waded in and will represent the former workers now occupiers in Court.
Alongside this, we will invest £120m in offshore wind manufacturing and £60m in the marine industry. This is an active industrial strategy designed to create low carbon jobs throughout the country.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: I always love the concept of 'We', you would think it is coming out of Milibands very own pocket, rather than the taxpayers. This is little more than petty cash and much of the money has been announced and allocated already, this is not new money. Better to properly invest and put a tidal barrier across The Wash, with its constant 24 hour motion, electricity generation is ensured. The rest sadly is just a load of hot air... mainly from Ed (should this not be Ted?) Miliband who always seems to be uncomfortable in this role. You feel he should be handling the Arts portfolio or holding down a desk in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
• Ed Miliband is currently Secretary of State for Climate Change & Energy
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