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Offshore wind industry-don't let this "Once in a Generation" manufacturing opportunity slip away

12 June 2013

RenewableUK and The Crown Estate have published a report highlighting a “once in a generation” chance to attract major companies to the UK to build factories to supply the fast-growing offshore wind energy sector. However, the study warns that unless the UK seizes this unprecedented opportunity, the manufacturing advantage will be lost to our European competitors.

The Energy Minister Michael Fallon described offshore wind as “a British success story” and said “This report sets out the enormous potential of this dynamic industry, which makes a crucial contribution to our clean energy mix“.

The study, “Building an Industry”, quantifies how many wind turbine factories and other manufacturing facilities (blades, cables and foundations) will be needed to fulfill the increase in demand up to 2020, not just from projects in UK waters, but to supply the rest of the European offshore wind energy sector as well. It also specifies what the UK industry alone will need between now and 2030.

The Government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap envisages the potential for 18 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind installed by 2020 – a significant increase from the 3.3GW installed so far. The rest of Europe combined is expected to match this with another 18GW, to reach a total of 36GW by the end of the decade. To install this, the report shows that Europe will need 64 major manufacturing facilities. Just over a third of these are already operational, and plans for a further third have been announced. Fewer than a quarter of these operational and planned facilities are in the UK – even though the UK is planning to build half Europe’s offshore wind farm capacity between now and 2020.

The report also states that by 2030, the UK offshore wind sector will need as many as 7 turbine tower factories, 7 blade factories, 7 nacelle factories, 6 factories to build foundations, 6 factories to build offshore substations and 6 cable factories. The sector will also require more than 20 huge seagoing vessels to install offshore turbines, and a further 230 vessels to carry workers to and from the turbines once they are operational.

This means that between now and 2030 the UK offshore wind sector will need:

  • Up to 7,930 turbine towers – if these were laid end to end they’d stretch from London to Cologne.
  • Up to 23,790 blades will be required – laid end to end they’d reach from London to Barcelona.
  • The 9,080km of cables needed would stretch from London to Thailand.

However, questions still remain about whether these components be built in the UK.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery said:

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. If we don’t seize it, the large scale offshore wind supply chain factories of the future, making the enormous blades, towers and foundations that we’ll need to retain the UK’s global lead in offshore wind, will be sited elsewhere. The potential to create tens of thousands of green-collar manufacturing jobs hangs in the balance. We are determined to work with Government to ensure that the UK capitalises on this chance to build an industry which will be the envy of the rest of the world”.

The Energy Minister Michael Fallon said:

“Offshore wind is a British success story. “We already have more installed offshore wind than anywhere else in the world, and this brings enormous economic benefit to our shores, supporting thousands of skilled jobs. This report sets out the enormous potential of this dynamic industry, which makes a crucial contribution to our clean energy mix”.

The report will be launched at RenewableUK’s annual Offshore Wind conference, which takes place in Manchester on Weds 12th and Thurs 13th June. Mr Fallon will address the wind industry for the first time. The Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing and the Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex will also make a keynote speech. More than 3,000 delegates will attend, with over 150 companies exhibiting.

Notes

  1. The UK currently has 3.321GW of offshore wind energy installed – more than the rest of the world put together, and sufficient to power the equivalent of more than 2 million homes. The world’s largest offshore wind farm, London Array, went fully operational in April.
  2. The 2030 scenario, which assumes healthy growth, envisages 50GW installed in UK waters.
  3. The report “Building an Industry”, commissioned by RenewableUK and The Crown Estate, was written by an independent consultancy, BVG Associates. It will be available in full on the RenewableUK website on Weds 12th June, in the publications section: http://www.renewableuk.com/en/publications/index.cfm
  4. Details on The Crown Estate can be found here: http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/

 

 

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RenewableUK is the UK’s leading renewable energy trade association, specialising in onshore wind, offshore wind and wave & tidal energy. Formed in 1978, we have an established, large corporate membership ranging from small independent companies, to large international corporations and manufacturers. Acting as a central point of information and a united, representative voice for our membership, we conduct research; find solutions; organise events, facilitate business development, and promote wind and marine renewables to government, industry, the media and the public. Our vision is for renewable energy to play a leading role in powering the UK.