In a year that continued to be dominated by the pandemic and the rapid acceleration of the energy transition, both the underwater industry and its representative body have been evolving.
The culmination of that evolution for Subsea UK was the transition into the Global Underwater Hub announced in November. This was achieved smoothly and, for the time being, fairly quietly, at least until the GUH is formally launched in the new year to much more fanfare.
Behind the scenes however, it is a hive of activity as we put in place the resources that will help companies working in all sectors across the underwater space to make strategic decisions about which markets to get after and where to invest in order to scale-up and capitalise on the wealth of opportunity in both the energy transition and the blue economy.
In 2021, the industry once again demonstrated its resilience. Despite the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic, our members have continued to innovate and evolve, servicing and supporting the changing needs of the energy sector, from traditional oil and gas to offshore wind, while embracing diversification into other markets such as wave and tidal, defence and aquaculture.
As we head into 2022, there is a real sense of optimism among underwater companies in both our traditional markets and emerging sectors.
The appetite for making a just energy transition continues to gain momentum, fuelled in part by the debate and agreements which arose from COP 26. And it is in the underwater space where we can truly point to tangible examples of the development or transfer of technology from one to the other, where the skills and expertise of subsea companies are in increasingly high demand to solve today’s and tomorrow’s energy challenges.
We have already carved out a niche as the world leader in the provision of underwater solutions to offshore fixed wind but the fast-paced emergence of floating offshore wind, in particular, will substantially raise the level of opportunity.
Floating offshore wind (FOW) is rapidly becoming a commercial reality with “massive” global potential for the North Sea subsea sector to exploit. The UK Government has set a target of one gigawatt (GW) of floating wind capacity by 2030, while analysts predict that the Asia Pacific market could offer investment opportunities worth up to $58 billion.
Coupled with that are other emerging sectors such as wave and tidal energy, CCUS and hydrogen along with aquaculture, oceanology, and defence that are creating the foundations for exponential growth right across the underwater space.
Competition from other countries seeking to win a slice of these high value markets will be fierce and intense and there will be no room for complacency.
The innovation and skills bank which have positioned the UK as the global leader must continue to be the driving force behind our ambition to transform the industry. Companies must be agile and adaptable, ready to respond swiftly and confidently as new opportunities arrive and as new technologies are demanded.
As the strategically-focused, intelligence-led body representing all part of the underwater industry, the GUH is committed to ensuring that we retain and secure our place as a leader on a global level.
Equally, the GUH will carve its own destiny, providing leadership to steer the industry onto bigger and better things. We will not follow but instead lead the way on co-operation, collaboration and, above all, on the provision of what the industry actually needs to succeed.
The future will be built on the broadening of horizons and cross-sector collaboration, through the creation of strategic alliances and partnerships with other industry organisations and agencies around the world as we work together to identify and secure multi-sector opportunities for our members.
The GUH ambition is to transform the underwater industry into one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the country, generating sustainable revenues and creating high value jobs.
In a world dominated by the need for an accelerated, but just, energy transition and the ultimate prize of net zero, the UK’s underwater industry must have its eye firmly on that prize and the GUH will be providing the intelligence and the tools to ensure that companies don’t lose focus.