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Offshore wind industry unveils plan to triple UK manufacturing capacity

Claire Coutinho: "Plans set out in the IGP will work with our £1Bn Green Industries Growth Accelerator to make sure the UK can build out the supply chain" (source: UK Gov)

Posted on April 23, 2024

A plan has been published setting out how to triple offshore wind manufacturing capacity in the UK in the next decade

The aim of the plan, the Industrial Growth Plan (IGP), published by RenewableUK, the Offshore Wind Industry Council, The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland, is to firmly establish the UK as a leader in the surging global offshore wind market.

The UK offshore wind industry already employs 32,000 people and each new large offshore windfarm adds £2-3Bn US$2.5-3.7Bn) to the economy. Employment is set to rise to over 100,000 by 2030 and investment in new offshore wind projects will create an economic opportunity worth up to £92Bn for the UK by 2040.

The measures set out in the IGP would support an additional 10,000 jobs a year and boost the UK’s economy by a further £25Bn between now and 2035, if offshore wind deployment is accelerated in line with the UK’s net-zero targets to 5-6GW a year. The UK has the second-largest global pipeline of offshore wind projects at all stages of development at nearly 100 GW – more than six times our current capacity.

As the Growth Plan’s analysis shows, supply chain constraints in many of the key components needed in offshore windfarms are already starting to be felt in the global market. The IGP identifies ‘strategic’ new factories and manufacturing capabilities which the UK should build up to protect against supply chain risks and boost economic growth. It also identifies five key technology areas in which the UK should prioritise investment to secure value for UK industry. These include the design and manufacture of offshore wind blades and turbine towers, foundations, cables and other key components and services for projects here and abroad.

The Growth Plan also highlights the industry’s potential to drive technology innovation, accelerate deployment and cut environmental impacts even further by incorporating automation and AI technologies in new projects. It sets out plans to expand testing facilities for cutting-edge technology, such as new materials for blades and designs for floating offshore wind platforms, as part of a focus on research and development at a potential new Advanced Technology Institute and a new National Innovation Hub, working in harmony with the Catapult network.

The plan aims to provide a shared vision which enables industry, governments across the UK and other funders to better align their investments to boost green jobs and manufacturing in the UK. It envisages mobilising nearly £3Bn of funding nationwide, with private finance doing the heavy lifting. This will bring a return to the economy of just under £9 for every £1 invested.

Industry will now take forward proposals to set up an IGP Delivery Body, in collaboration with key partners, which will set out the detail of how best to govern and deliver the IGP in a way that ensures the best use is made of funding provided by the industry, the government’s Green Industry Growth Accelerator (GIGA) fund, The Crown Estate’s Supply Chain Accelerator, Scottish government funding and other sources. To meet the ambition of the Industrial Growth Plan, the Delivery Body should be established by the end of the year.

The Industrial Growth Plan is part of wider efforts to boost investment in the UK in the context of increasing global competition for clean energy technology. Many of the UK’s competitors have introduced new incentives to attract investment in offshore wind projects and domestic manufacturing, hoping to replicate Britain’s success in offshore wind. The plan sets out a targeted approach which builds on our existing national capabilities, growing our economy, generating employment and securing the UK’s leadership in international export markets.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said, “Britain’s windswept shorelines give us a competitive advantage in the global race for energy. That’s why, since 2010, Britain has been second only to China in building new offshore wind. The plans set out by industry in the IGP will work with our £1Bn Green Industries Growth Accelerator to make sure the UK can build out the supply chain – including the turbine blades and high-voltage cables that we will need to produce cheaper, cleaner, more secure energy.”

RenewableUK chief executive Dan McGrail said, “Our Industrial Growth Plan is the deepest dive ever into the offshore wind supply chain, identifying the highest-value components and services which the UK should focus on to get the biggest economic bang for our buck from future windfarm development.

“For example, it shows the UK will need 300 giant turbine towers every year for offshore wind projects between now and 2030 to deliver government targets. The plan charts a clear course for us to ensure we seize that massive economic opportunity and maximise our opportunities to manufacture those towers here, along with more blades, cables, foundations and a whole range of other products.

“By using this as a blueprint to work closely with all our partners in the sector, we can triple the size of that supply chain, ramp up our offshore wind capacity significantly and secure a huge increase in jobs, all within the next 10 years.”

The Crown Estate managing director marine Gus Jaspert said, “To truly make the most of the shift to renewable energy, we must also view the UK’s energy transition as an economic and jobs transition. Our offshore wind industry is already world leading, but as demand for wind technology increases further, both nationally and on a global level, the UK must be on the front foot investing in and developing its supply chain to accelerate growth within the sector.”


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