The UK offshore wind industry has this week committed to working with the Government on a “transformative” sector deal that could spur £48 billion in new investments in the country’s infrastructure and increase offshore wind capacity to 30 gigawatts by 2030.
In an effort to secure support from the UK Government by means of a Sector Deal — partnerships between government and industry that have yielded significant benefits for UK sectors such as the automotive and life science sectors — the UK Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) has presented its “ambitious” 2030 Vision. The OWIC’s plan is in direct response to the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy published in 2017 and seeks to reduce costs, increase productivity, decarbonise the UK economy, and grow a skilled workforce.
The 2030 Vision consists of commitments of investing a further £48 billion in essential energy infrastructure by 2030, which could reduce overall electricity system costs by 9%; a five-fold increase in export value, up to £2.6 billion per year; 27,000 skilled jobs across the UK, an increase from the 11,000 in existence today, and focused primarily in coastal areas; and the potential for offshore wind capacity to reach 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, up from 13 GW today.
The Baroness Brown of Cambridge will lead the offshore wind energy sector’s engagement with the Government, in addition to her role as the UK’s Low Carbon Business Ambassador and Vice Chair of the Committee on Climate Change.
“The challenge for the offshore wind industry and Government is to ensure that we capitalise on our world-leading position in a highly competitive, global market and deliver on the huge potential for jobs, new infrastructure, exports and economic growth,” Baroness Brown said. “This will also allow us to continue to achieve significant cost reductions, helping energy consumers.
“With an ambitious Sector Deal, we have the opportunity to take the next transformative steps together, enabling the offshore wind industry to help Government to achieve its clean growth ambitions in a way that boosts productivity and growth throughout the UK.”
The offshore wind energy sector believes that a Sector Deal of this sort would be able to deliver one-third of the UK’s electricity from offshore wind by 2030. In addition, the additional offshore wind capacity will not only generate clean electricity, but it will also result in a direct impact on the supply chain productivity and efficiency, which will benefit adjacent sectors as well as the UK’s export options. In particular, the global offshore wind market is expected to reach over £30 billion per annum by 2030 which gives the UK export market tremendous opportunities to participate, and lead to the proposed five-fold increase in export value.
In addition, the offshore sector is promising its own new commitments to support the objectives of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, including prioritizing innovation, creating new business opportunities, generating high-quality jobs, helping communities, and upgrading UK infrastructure.
“We’re working together as a Sector to partner with the UK Government and deliver our ambitious vision for the future of offshore wind,” said Benj Sykes, Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council and VP at Ørsted. “This deal comes at the right time for the Offshore Wind Sector; we have grown rapidly and reduced costs much faster than anticipated. The Sector is now at a critical turning point and must seize this opportunity to reach its full potential with a transformative deal. Our proposals show how the innovative offshore wind industry can drive economic growth throughout the UK, attracting billions in investment, driving growth in coastal communities which need new opportunities, whilst generating affordable and clean energy.”
The Sector Deal has unsurprisingly been warmly welcomed and supported across the UK offshore wind sector.
“Offshore wind is a UK- wide success story, with recent cost reductions a testament to the sector’s ability to rise to a challenge,” said Fabrice Leveque, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables. “Scotland has a strong heritage of offshore expertise, as well as some of Europe’s best wind resources. This new deal is an opportunity to build on recent successes and ensure that the enormous potential for jobs and investment presented by offshore wind is shared across the UK.”