Offshore wind is a real UK success story and is helping us to build a world-leading, low cost, low carbon power system that will ensure the UK economy can decarbonise whilst remaining internationally competitive.
There are already 28 operational offshore wind farms in the UK providing clean, green energy and recent government data showed that public support for offshore wind is now up to 80%. The industry will continue working with the Government to ensure that offshore wind delivers the core of the UK’s long-term electricity mix. And as the Government looks to build an industrial strategy that addresses long-term challenges to the UK economy whist decarbonising, offshore wind can really help in achieving this aim.
Offshore wind is already delivering economic growth and the Offshore Wind Industry Council – a joint industry and government body – has a clear vision to create long-term jobs across the UK. These are high quality jobs that range from roles in operations and maintenance to skilled engineering positions and are often located in coastal locations, helping to deliver economic regeneration and growth in all regions of the UK.
In addition to jobs, a competitive and innovative supply chain is developing across the UK, with world leading companies providing components not just for UK projects but also exporting around the world. In 2016, UK based firms won offshore wind contracts in 18 different countries, from Sweden to South Korea. For example CWind, based in Chelmsford, offers a range of services such as installing underwater cables and carrying out inspections using remote-controlled vehicles, and worked on seven offshore wind projects in Germany and Taiwan last year.
Bigger wind turbines and other technological advances are enabling costs to fall rapidly while efficiency increases. Innovation has been at the heart of this drive to reduce costs and work continues to make savings and develop technology at every stage of the wind farm development process. Innovation is another area where offshore wind ties into the UK industrial strategy, ultimately helping to grow the UK economy whilst delivering affordable low carbon power.
Over the coming months, the Offshore Wind Industry Council will be working hard on a sector deal with the Government. We will focus on bringing a higher level of ambition through game-changing approaches to governing and developing the UK power system.
Offshore wind has come a long way in a relatively short space of time and can be placed right at the heart of the 21st century’s affordable low carbon energy system. It is creating jobs and a thriving supply chain for UK businesses. Building on current successes, the industry now needs to focus on delivering an ambitious future.
Benj Sykes is co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council.