Scots reject GSK wind turbines; tidal turbines up next

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) had big plans for generating power as it upgraded a plant in Montrose on the Scotland coast. The company would use tidal generators and wind turbines for renewable, more cost-effective energy in a country where power costs have been rising steadily.

But residents of Montrose, more agitated than excited about having two 425-foot high wind turbines looming over their village, persuaded a local council to object. Even after GSK site manager Andy Ross reminded the council of how important the API plant is economically to the area, the Angus Council voted 9-2 against the turbines Tuesday, The Courier reports. 

In an email response to FiercePharmaManufacturing, GSK spokesman Philip Brown says, "In essence, the refusal of the turbines won't impact the company's plans to invest in a vaccine adjuvants plant, which will cost in the region of £25 million. This was announced in March 2012 as part of a £50 million package, which included further investment in current products at Montrose, with around £10 million earmarked for the turbines and other energy efficiency technologies."

The Montrose project is part of a highly sought investment by GSK in its home country. After the U.K. Parliament approved a lower corporate tax rate on profits from U.K.-owned intellectual property in March, GSK released plans build a new plant in Ulverston, Cumbria, its first new plant in the U.K. in 40 years. It also would invest £100 million ($158.3 million) in upgrades at existing plants in Irvine and Montrose in Scotland.

CEO Andrew Witty last year linked off-grid power generation and environmental sustainability with manufacturing cost management. He said he expected the drugmaker's energy bills to escalate 20% to 30% this year. "If energy is going to go up 30% every year, then forget it, we're out of the game." As part of the effort, GSK got permission to use a riverbed for a project to install tidal turbines.

Brown says, "placing marine turbines in the tidal estuary of the River South Esk, which runs by the site, remains part of the facility's strategy to produce electricity from renewable sources to become more sustainable and to become neutral in terms of carbon footprint. Development of this first of its kind scheme is part of the £10 million investment."

- read The Courier story