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18 April 2024
Renewable Energy

Offshore Wind Industry Unveils Industrial Growth Plan to Boost UK Economy by £25 Billion

An Industrial Growth Plan setting out how to triple offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next ten years has been unveiled.

RenewableUK, the Offshore Wind Industry Council, The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland have published a detailed plan which they say would firmly establish the UK as a leader in a surging global market.

In Wales the first three floating offshore wind farms in the Celtic Sea, which will be some of the largest in the world, will be able to generate up to 4.5GW of electricity. The sector could be worth up to £1.4 billion and employ up to 5,000 people. This could  include a fleet of 267 floating platforms, each the size of an ocean-going vessel, mounted with turbines almost as tall as The Shard in London.

Longer term there is the possibility of generating up to 24GW of electricity from the Celtic Sea.

The UK offshore wind industry already employs 32,000 people and each new large offshore wind farm adds £2-3bn to the economy. Employment is set to rise to over 100,000 by 2030 and investment in new offshore wind projects will create an economic opportunity worth up to £92bn for the UK by 2040.

The measures set out in the Industrial Growth Plan (IGP) would support an additional 10,000 jobs a year and boost the UK’s economy by a further £25 billion between now and 2035, if  offshore wind deployment was accelerated in line with net zero targets to 5-6 gigawatts a year. The UK has the second largest global pipeline of offshore wind projects at all stages of development at nearly 100GW – more than six times our current capacity.

As the Growth Plan’s analysis shows, supply chain constraints in many of the key components needed in offshore wind farms are already starting to be felt in the global market. The IGP identifies strategic new factories and manufacturing capabilities which the UK should build up to protect against supply chain risks and boost economic growth.

The IGP identifies five key technology areas in which the UK should prioritise investment to secure value for UK industry. These include the design and manufacture of offshore wind blades and turbine towers, foundations, cables and other key components and services for projects here and abroad.

Tessa Blazey, Director of Policy and External Relations for Floventis Energy, said:

“There should be absolutely no doubt about the scale of the economic opportunity that Wales and the UK has in this surging global market. Test and demonstration projects like Llŷr 1 and 2 are what will build a floating offshore wind industry in Wales, so it is critical that we work with the supply chain to maximise the opportunity.

“That’s why we are partnering with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult to deliver F4OR in Wales, a programme specifically designed to support local companies bidding for work in the floating offshore wind industry. It will give businesses the skills and expertise to deliver success in this rapidly growing sector, boosting investment, creating jobs and generating opportunity for all.”

The Growth Plan also highlights the industry’s potential to drive technology innovation, accelerate deployment and cut environmental impacts even further by incorporating automation and AI technologies in new projects. It sets out plans to expand testing facilities for cutting-edge technology, such as new materials for blades and designs for floating offshore wind platforms, as part of a focus on Research and Development at a potential new Advanced Technology Institute and a new National Innovation Hub, working in harmony with UK's world-class Catapult network.

The plan aims to provide a shared vision which enables industry, governments across the UK and other funders to better align their investments to boost green jobs and manufacturing in the UK. The plan envisages mobilising nearly £3 billion of funding nationwide, with private finance doing the heavy lifting. This will bring a return to our economy of just under £9 for every £1 invested.

Industry will now take forward proposals to set up an IGP Delivery Body, in collaboration with key partners, which will set out the detail of how we govern and deliver the IGP in a way that ensures the best use is made of funding provided by the industry, the Government’s Green Industry Growth Accelerator (GIGA) fund, The Crown Estate’s Supply Chain Accelerator, Scottish Government funding and other sources. To meet the ambition of the Industrial Growth Plan, the Delivery Body should be established by the end of the year.

The Industrial Growth Plan is part of wider efforts to boost investment in the UK in the context of increasing global competition for clean energy technology. Many of the UK’s competitors have introduced new incentives to attract investment in offshore wind projects and domestic manufacturing, hoping to replicate Britain’s success in offshore wind. The plan sets out a targeted approach which builds on our existing national capabilities, growing our economy, generating employment and securing the UK's leadership in international export markets.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail said:

“Our Industrial Growth Plan is the deepest dive ever into the offshore wind supply chain, identifying the highest-value components and services which the UK should focus on to get the biggest economic bang for our buck from future wind farm development. For example, it shows that the UK will need three hundred giant turbine towers every year for offshore wind projects between now and 2030 to deliver Government targets. The plan charts a clear course for us to ensure that we seize that massive economic opportunity and maximise our opportunities to manufacture those towers here, along with more blades, cables, foundations and a whole range of other products.

“By using this as a blueprint to work closely with all our partners in the sector, we can triple the size of that supply chain, ramp up our offshore wind capacity significantly and secure a huge increase in jobs, all within the next ten years”.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said:

“Britain’s windswept shorelines give us a competitive advantage in the global race for energy. That's why, since 2010, Britain has been second only to China in building new offshore wind. “The plans set out by industry today will work with our £1 billion Green Industries Growth Accelerator to make sure the UK can build out the supply chain – including the turbine blades and high-voltage cables that we will need to produce cheaper, cleaner, more secure energy.”

The Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) Richard Sandford said: 

“OWIC stands firmly behind the plan to accelerate the growth of our domestic offshore wind supply chain, building on the successes already delivered through funding the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership, and taking full advantage of Britain's global leadership in offshore wind. We look forward to working with colleagues across Government, The Crown Estate, Crown Estate Scotland and the wider industry, as we implement the strategic measures set out in the Industrial Growth Plan. These will help us to build up our world-class supply chain with new facilities in the UK, providing innovative products and highly-prized expertise for projects here and all over the world in an intensely competitive multi-billion pound export market”.

Gus Jaspert, Managing Director, Marine at The Crown Estate, said:

 “To truly make the most of the shift to renewable energy, we must also view the UK’s energy transition as an economic and jobs transition. Our offshore wind industry is already world leading but as demand for wind technology increases further, both nationally and on a global level, the UK must be on the front foot investing in and developing its supply chain to accelerate growth within the sector.

“Establishing this supply chain will take co-ordination and collaboration across UK governments and industry, and the IGP provides the detail needed to target those areas where we can have the biggest impact. As an early action, The Crown Estate is establishing a £50 million Supply Chain Accelerator to catalyse early-stage investment, with an initial £10 million pilot fund launching this summer to support supply chain opportunities created through the Celtic Sea Leasing Round 5 and a further £40 million earmarked aligned to the IGP.”

The Industrial Growth Plan is available here in full.

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