Transformative sector deal vision revealed for offshore wind

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 20 Mar 2018

BRITAIN’S offshore wind industry is to work with the Government on a transformative sector deal which could deliver thousands more jobs in the Humber, while reducing electricity costs for consumers.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge has been revealed as Westminster’s Sector Champion for Offshore Wind, to spearhead a vision that includes £48 billion investment in UK infrastructure, 

The industry’s vision for 2030 includes:

  • £48 billion investment in UK infrastructure
  • 150 per cent increase in employment, mainly in coastal areas
  • five-fold increase in export value, to £2.6 billion a year
  • £2.4 billion a year reduction in total electricity system costs

Should a deal be agreed, the industry aims to generate one third of the UK’s electricity from offshore wind by the end of the next decade. This scaled up ambition, coupled with the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, means the industry will more than double its capacity from 13GW deployed or contracted today, to 30GW by 2030.

Read more: Beast from the East Two sends offshore wind records tumbling

The Humber, and Grimsby specifically, will be home to the world’s largest wind farm by the time the decade begins, with Hull’s blade factory producing the ever-longer critical components.

Substations, towers and other key elements are still being looked at for domestic construction.

Baroness Brown is the UK’s Low Carbon Business Ambassador and vice chair of the Committee on Climate Change.

She said: “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. 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 Humber is already serving six operational wind farms, with an installed capacity just shy of 1.5GW, a quarter of the UK’s capability.

CURRENT STATE OF PLAY: How the Humber is shaping up.

Benj Sykes, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, and a senior executive with Grimsby’s leading sector inward investor, Orsted, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Baroness Brown will be championing this deal on behalf of our sector. She brings a wealth of experience from her positions across business, government and academia. Her knowledge and skills will be invaluable as we continue to work with the Government to deliver the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy.

“We’re working together as a sector to partner with the UK Government and deliver our ambitious vision for the future of offshore wind. 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.”

MORE: Have you signed up for Offshore Wind Connections 2018 yet?

As reported, Hornsea Project Two, which will follow Hornsea Project One with the world-leading title – as it heads back to the Humber having been held by London Array of late – won Government subsidy backing at £57.50 last September, putting it right in the mainstream energy mix.

Mr Sykes said the sector is prioritising innovation, creating new business opportunities, generating high-quality jobs, helping communities to prosper and upgrading UK infrastructure.

For example, the industry has identified the potential to invest a further £48 billion in essential energy infrastructure by 2030, which could reduce overall electricity system costs by 9 per cent.

The sector’s analysis also shows how the growing global offshore wind market, expected to reach over £30 billion per annum by 2030, presents huge export opportunities for the UK. If a deal is agreed, the industry believes it can grow its export value five-fold by 2030.

The industry will now enter into a period of engagement with the UK Government on the prospectus. 

There is still much to achieve domestically. Able Marine Energy Park is as yet untouched by offshore wind development having outlined opportunity for 4,000 jobs at the ‘big space in the right place’. It was severely delayed through the planning process, but the next offshore wind developer to potentially hit the Humber – Innogy, with Triton Knoll – has expressed a strong interest, and more should emerge once that project reaches financial close.

Operations and maintenance services in Grimsby are reaching critical mass, with Orsted landing its East Coast Hub in the town, and with it 500 jobs. Tomorrow Renewable UK, the trade body, together with Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, the delivery partner, is hosting an event in Grimsby, underlining that status.

Work is emerging in export too, with strong ties already made with civic, academic and industry bodies in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where the US is taking the first commercial steps, as well as Taiwan. 

Reacting to the announcement, Matthew Wright, managing director of Orsted UK, said: "Offshore wind is a major economic engine for the Humber region, and the industry's 2030 vision will bring yet more investment to the area. 

"Our operations here, which include two operational wind farms and three under construction, have already boosted the local economy and helped transform the Humber into an Energy Estuary. We have recently started construction on the UK's largest offshore wind operations and maintenance hub, a multi-million pound investment that will serve our wind farms off the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire coast, including Hornsea Projects One and Two, set to become the biggest wind farms in the world.

"With the industry's ambitious 2030 target of 30GW we can expect to see yet more economic growth, more jobs and more opportunities for UK supply chain companies as the UK and global markets continue to grow. By collaborating and working closely with academic institutions and other businesses we can play a big part in helping the Government achieve its clean growth ambitions."  

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