Head of Project Development
More than 500 people will attend one of the UK’s largest events dedicated to offshore renewables this week when Marine Energy Wales host their annual conference at Swansea Arena.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with old colleagues and make new connections, hear from industry leaders, and discover how floating wind can contribute towards energy security and the decarbonisation of our society.
In the same way that Wales powered the first Industrial Revolution, we now have the opportunity for it to power and benefit from the Green Industrial Revolution. As we look to decarbonise our energy system while growing a robust, green economy, Wales’ natural resources are central to the UK’s net zero target for 2050. With 75 Gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind required to achieve Net Zero, Wales is looking at 50 GW of those as a potential resource located off its coasts.
To realise this potential there are some crucial steps required to be achieved. The supply chain needs to be given the opportunity to step into this market, to diversify their existing skills, to invest in port infrastructure and to upskill and train their current and future staff. Analysis by the ORE Catapult tells us that the first GW alone in the Celtic Sea could deliver over 3,000 jobs and £682 million in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030.
If the first Industrial Revolution industry grew with the benefit of affordable energy from Welsh coal, for the Green Industrial Revolution the benefits will be realised when affordable green energy from floating wind is powering UK industry, creating jobs within the supply chain and enabling the rejuvenation of our ports such as Milford Haven and Port Talbot. These ports are ideally situated to become hubs for manufacturing, construction and operations and maintenance for floating structures.
To capture this opportunity, we need to work together as industry, supply chain and Government to deliver a consistent pipeline of projects in the form of demonstrations sites such as lLyr 1&2, the forthcoming Celtic Sea leasing round, and an ambition for more to come after that.
Having completed the benthic and geophysical surveys for Llŷr 1 and 2, we are now preparing to submit our full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and begin consultations with local stakeholders. This is part of our core commitment to creating local jobs and economic value, so we are actively working to identify and engage with potential supply chain partners across Wales to deliver our part in this journey.
We are focussed on reaching out to Wales’ supply chain companies, to promote the market opportunities from this emerging sector developing on their doorstep. Engagement includes events like an industry trade delegation to France last week. Led by the Welsh Government with our support, 19 delegates from supply chain companies, ports and industry membership bodies took part in the fact finding and trade mission to Fos-sur-Mer. This is SBM Offshore’s fabrication facility near Marseille that is currently assembling the floating wind platforms for Provence Grand Large, the first of France’s pilot floating windfarms.
The visit gave our potential supply chain partners in Wales the opportunity to understand what will be required for the development of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea and how they can start to prepare for the opportunity ahead. The feedback has been excellent.
Floating offshore wind represents a once-in-a-generation industrial opportunity for Wales. I’ve no doubt that events like the Marine Energy Wales conference and the efforts of developers like ourselves to engage with the supply chain and local communities will make a real difference; creating jobs and upskilling opportunities as part of the drive for critical change in the UK’s energy mix.