Today’s announcement of a Sector Deal between the offshore wind sector and the UK Government is a huge boost for developers, their existing and prospective supply chain and for the UK economy at large.
The government has laid out its ambition to make the UK a global leader in the development of renewable energy technologies, with offshore wind now recognised as a prominent component of the UK’s industrial strategy.
With this Sector Deal, offshore wind can now demonstrate its importance, not just to the delivery of affordable, secure, clean energy, but also as a driving force behind the development of highly-skilled UK jobs and the potential to export those skills.
The industry has met the challenges in making wind power commercially viable, with offshore wind projects now projected by 2020 to be cheaper to build than fossil fuel-fired power plants.
After many months of Brexit-related negativity, this new deal is a welcome good news story.
The headline terms of the deal are:-
1. The offshore wind industry will invest £250 million to develop the UK supply chain – offering more opportunities within the UK and also a predicted five-fold increase in global export value by 2030 (which equates to an impressive £2.6 billion);
2. A third of British-generated electricity is to be produced by offshore wind power by 2030. It is recognised that the £557 million contribution by government for further clean energy Contracts for Difference auctions through the 2020s (which was announced previously) remains vital to secure this target.
It builds confidence in the project pipeline, which, in turn, captures the developer and supply chain interest. The quid pro quo includes a predicted tripling of jobs to 27,000 by 2030 – particularly targeted to coastal communities where the need is greatest.
The growth of the UK offshore wind sector over the last 15 to 20 years has been remarkable; as has the tumbling cost of developments, driven by sensible government support and ambitious and innovative developer commitment.
We currently sit as world leader in offshore wind generation. While international competition is mounting, it now feels like we have all of the components necessary to build out a successful, sustainable sector that will continue to grow its UK market share and international reach for years to come.