Offshore wind sector deal could swell north-east renewable jobs

Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm
Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm

A new UK Government-pledged deal for the offshore wind industry could swell the number of north-east jobs in the sector.

The deal, which will see UK energy minister Claire Perry announce £250 million investment into the sector, has the potential to churn out big returns in the Grampian and Highlands region.

The proposed deal will also look to “more than double” the amount of females in the sector.

At present, only 16% of the offshore wind workforce are women.

The plan will also facilitate the transfer of skills between oil and gas and the renewable energy industry.

The UK Government estimate a UK-wide jobs increase of more than 20,000, with Scotland to see a potential jump from 3,400 to more than 10,000 jobs.

The north-east and Highlands already have a number of offshore wind developments with the Aberdeen Bay project and the giant 84-turbine Beatrice Offshore Windfarm due to be completed this year.

The 950 megawatt (MW) Moray East Offshore Windfarm and the Kincardine Floating project are also scheduled for construction in 2020.

The announcement of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal also saw a host of big renewables firms pledge further investment.

ScottishPower, who has a number of onshore Highland projects, revealed it was pursuing future offshore wind projects in Scotland.

The firm’s chief executive, Keith Anderson, said last night: “The sector deal will attract even more businesses in the UK to join the offshore wind supply chain and we are excited to see the transformative impact this will have on our projects.”

However Dick Winchester, part of the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board, accused the UK Government of  “chasing policy without having a proper industrial strategy to support it”.

North-east Labour MSP Lewis MacDonald also warned that while the new deal was “positive” for the industry, the UK Government “must hold up it’s end of the bargain”.

Gavin Mackay, head of energy industries at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, strongly welcomed the news, claiming that areas such as Campbeltown, Arnish, Invergordon and Wick were “already seeing the benefits of offshore wind”.

In January, a report by the Energy and Utility Skills group suggested Scottish wind sector may even find it “challenging” to fill roles as it attempts to satisfy the demands of a £14 billion investment in the North Sea.

Jean Morrison, chairwoman of Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) said: “The North East has significant expertise in its local supply chain, who have already played a valuable contribution to delivering offshore wind and securing investment, which will be vital in delivering the targets set out in the sector deal.

“We want to ensure that new developments deliver the ambitions for job creation for our local supply chain.”