Poland's Solidarity shipyard turns to wind turbines

18th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Poland's historic Gdansk shipyard, the 1980 birthplace of the Solidarity trade union led by freedom icon Lech Walesa that toppled communism in 1989, started work on making wind turbines on Thursday.

Initial plans call for a hundred turbines to be produced there annually, a figure which could be increased to 200 within in two years, Gdansk Shipyard chairman Andrzej Stoklosa said, quoted by the Polish PAP news agency.

Stoklosa said the yard hopes to become Europe's leading wind-turbine manufacturer, producing both land- and sea-based models.

The first 10 turbines for German client Nordex, a leader in wind energy, are already under construction, he said.

The turbines can produce up two megawatts, with the cost per megawatt 1.5 million euros (2.0 million dollars), according to Stoklosa.

Poland currently produces around 1,100 megawatts of wind energy, covering less than one percent of its total electricity needs.

Ukraine's Donbass group owns 80 percent of the Gdansk shipyard with the Polish Treasury holding the remaining 20 percent.

The facility employs some 1,700 people and is still building ships, with 11 vessels currently under construction, according to management.

The Gdansk Shipyard is renowned as the cradle of Poland's 1980's Solidarity freedom movement.

After an unprecedented two-week-long strike at the Lenin shipyard, as it was then called, Poland's communist regime signed an agreement on August 31, 1980 with strikers led by shipyard electrician Lech Walesa that paved the way for the creation of Solidarnosc (Solidarity), the first and only independent trade union in the entire Soviet bloc.

Solidarity went on to negotiate a peaceful end to communism in Poland in 1989, making the country the first to escape Moscow's grip. By 1991, the entire Soviet bloc had crumbled.

© 2010 AFP

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