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Tata Steel invest in renewable energy sector

Tata Steel in Hartlepool is investing in kit to supply parts for offshore wind turbines, the BBC reported.

Tata Steel in Hartlepool has become the latest company to try and cash in on a predicted boom in the renewable energy sector.

The company has invested £2m in its pipes and tubes plant in the town, buying new specialist kit in anticipation of winning contracts to supply parts for offshore wind turbines.

It wants to make steel tubes that can be used in turbine monopiles - the plinths that the whole structure sits on.

The opening of the facility will, according to the company, give it access to markets that could be very profitable.

That the market is so potentially huge is down to the European Union commitment to have 20% of energy generated by renewable sources - things like offshore wind - by 2020. Even in the UK, the commitment is 15% by the same date.

But will companies such as Tata Steel be able to cash in, and fill its factory with orders? The omens do not look encouraging.

The Robin Rigg wind farm in the Solway Firth got only 32% of its development, manufacture and construction from UK businesses.

The Thanet wind farm in Kent saw more than 80% of its deals going overseas, while the London Array development in the Thames Estuary had 90% of overseas input.

And elsewhere on Teesside, the Tees Alliance Group thought it had clinched a contract to supply wind turbine plinths for a farm off the North Sea coast near Redcar, but lost out to a Dutch company.

The reason is that foreign companies have a track record in the industry, and that proves irresistible to the developers.