Government aims for wind turbine manufacturing in the Illawarra

Assistant Minister for Manufacturing Tim Ayres has hopes of Australia moving into wind farm manufacturing in the Illawarra region of New South Wales.

Visiting BlueScope Steel at Coniston last week Ayres said he was keen to discuss with the company the potential for developing further manufacturing in the light of $55 million in Commonwealth’s support for advanced manufacturing capabilities at BlueScope.

Ayres said: “One of the things I’m really keen to discuss with the company today, is about what this means for BlueScope but what it means for the supply chain.

“I want to see an Australian wind tower manufacturer in the Illawarra. I want to see more firms in the supply chain using BlueScope products to make the advanced manufacturing products of the future because I know what that means.”

Wind turbine manufacturing would go a long way to supporting Australian energy independence – the vast majority of Australia’s renewables supply chain is made up by imports.

Today Vestas has produces nacelles and blades in Australia and, along with its partner Marand Precision Engineering, operates a wind turbine assembly facility in Geelong, Victoria. RPG Australia and Keppel Prince have also manufactured wind towers.

On top of that Australia boasts only one small manufacturer of solar panels – Tindo Solar – though the solar cells themselves are imported from China.

Ayres was the subject of hostile questioning from journalists during his visit over the grant, given BlueScope has been reporting record profits.

Ayres hit back: “Well, what we want to see in Australia is profitable manufacturing companies.

“We want to see companies and firms in Australia that are making profits…and I look forward to hearing from them more about how those profits are going to be reinvested in Australian manufacturing capability.”

Ayres said the importance of supporting investment in steel making was firstly that it was impossible to imaging Australia achieving its goals of growing manufacturing without BlueScope being a core part of that proposition.

“The second aspect of this that I’m excited about is what it means is BlueScope’s taken another step into the future.

“More investment in being able to manufacture steel, for example, for wind towers and turbines that are going to be just so vital for our clean energy future, being able to manufacture plate steel that’s going to be critical for our investments in defence technology and defence capability.

“So this is a win/win in my view.”

Picture: Tim Ayres

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