As 130 workers return to the Skylon factory to fulfil an outstanding order, the facts that have begun to emerge from the auditors tell a salutary tale. Despite all the optimism within European wind, such positivity accounts for nothing if the numbers – and perhaps more specifically – the cash flow – doesn’t stack up.
With Skylon having been forced to suspend all its payments back in October, it was only ever a matter of time before one of its factories failed. In the subsequent media fallout, it was easy to believe that the closure marked just the tip of the iceberg for an industry that was in danger of becoming over cooked.
The resultant job losses, the unfulfilled orders and Skylon’s silence only added fuel to the fire. Sklylon was not the flavour of the day. And yet, to pin the blame on anything but bad financial forecasting seems naïve at best.
Sure, the financial uncertainty and the resultant lack of credit over the past 18 months have created a whole host of very real problems for wind energy businesses throughout Europe. But for an industry that’s still very much in its ascendancy, these financial challenges can and indeed will be overcome. However, for the moment at least, cash is king.
And the UK Government’s Green Investment Bank knows it.
Four Republican congressmen have called for a halt to US offshore wind projects because of unsubstantiated claims blaming the industry for whale deaths. But this obvious misinformation can still be a threat for the growth of the industry.