Green energy firm on verge of collapse due to lack of orders

Green energy firm on verge of collapse due to lack of orders


 


John Ross


Scotsman


18.07.06


 


 


A company at the forefront of Scotland’s booming renewable energy industry is facing closure, raising concerns about the wider health of the sector.


 


Crunch talks are being held to secure the future of the Western Isles firm Camcal and its 80 staff after delays in a new order left it facing collapse.


 


Camcal, based at the former Arnish oil yard in Lewis, has been involved in talks with the Scottish Executive, Scottish Enterprise and Western Isles Enterprise, as well as possible private backers, since last week.


 


The situation at the firm, at a time when a wealth of renewable projects are planned across Scotland, has raised concern for other businesses in the sector.


 


No-one was available at the company yesterday. However, Alasdair Morrison, the Western Isles MSP, said last night: ‘We are looking for a solution that could possibly involve the public and private sectors. The next few days are going to be critical.’


 


He added: ‘Camcal, and what is being done at Arnish, is not just a Western Isles issue – it is the only yard in Britain involved in this work and has completed major projects. It should be seen as a national asset at the forefront of this embryonic industry.’


 


Jason Ormison, the senior wind energy officer for Scottish Renewables, urged planning authorities to approve more renewable projects to help firms such as Camcal with a greater flow of work.


 


‘We have to make sure there is a sufficient number of orders coming through, which is dependent on planners making decisions and getting a throughput of orders creating a market for people to invest in,’ he said.


 


‘There are a lot of projects in the planning system, but they are not coming through the other end with approvals.’


 


Mr Ormison said that if Camcal can secure financial help, then it could allow the firm breathing space to secure new work. Camcal, formerly Cambrian Caledonian, was formed in 2004 and has been backed by £3.4 million from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network, which has also invested more than £9 million to create a business park at Arnish.


 


Among Camcal’s successes is the building of 12 tube segments for Pelamis, the world’s first commercial wave farm being tested in Portugal.


 


This week Brian Wilson, the former energy minister, also criticised the lack of projects coming forward to help renewables companies. He said: ‘The yard is on the brink for one reason only: that all the rhetoric, at which we are so good, is utterly unmatched by the projects that are required to keep any such business on an even keel.’


 


He warned that if Camcal does not win new work, projects such as Pelamis will be lost to Scotland: ‘If the yard goes to the wall, then the likelihood of this entire project – entirely developed in Scotland – becoming a Portuguese pride and joy will be greatly enhanced.’