Clegg unveils new offshore wind strategy as UK hits 10GW milestone
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has today unveiled the Government's offshore wind industry strategy claiming it will help keep Britain the world leader in "one of the most important industries of the 21st Century".
Speaking at the official launch of the Industrial Strategy, Clegg said: "The race is now on to lead the world in clean, green energy. As an island nation, and with our weather, the UK is ideally placed to make the most of offshore wind energy - you could say it was a technology designed for us.
"This strategy will help keep Britain as the world leader in one of the most important industries of the 21st Century. If we make the most of offshore wind's potential in the UK, it can provide a big proportion of the energy that lights our homes and powers our economy."
Working alongside the industry, the Government has set out specific actions in the strategy that focus on attracting billions of pounds of investment.
The strategy outlines the Government's attempts to secure investment in the renewables sector, including its decision in June to bring forward the key announcements on Energy Market Reform (EMR). These are intended to allow industry to plan major capital investment in the UK and its supply chain.
According to the strategy, there are challenges to ensure that the UK supply chain benefits significantly from future offshore wind deployment.
Challenges highlighted include increasing visibility of the pipeline of future projects and the likely size and timing of future market demand, particularly past 2020 and ensuring potential inward investors understand the benefit of locating manufacturing facilities in the UK.
Specifically, it looks to enable UK supply chain companies to develop the capability to meet the requirements of developers and top tier manufacturers and compete globally on cost and quality on a "level playing field".
Welcoming the Government's strategy, RenewableUK's chief executive, Maria McCaffery, said: "These endorsements from the very top of Government show that Ministers get the significance of the opportunity within our grasp - as long as the right policy framework is in place.
However, McCaffery said that there's still a danger that the industrial opportunity "could be wrested from us" by our European competitors if the Government sends mixed messages on its commitment to renewables.
Also backing the Government's plan, the manufacturers association, EEF, said: "A plan to capture the industrial benefits of the Government's offshore wind strategy is vital. Just 30% of the components used in the industry currently come from UK businesses, so there's a real risk that energy policy will create a heavily subsidised market for overseas manufacturers, all paid for by the British consumer.
"Today's announcement pulls together a number of existing initiatives on finance, innovation and skills into a more coherent plan to support the industry. Its success will be judged on its ability to deliver the Business Secretary's ambition to see 70% of the components that go into offshore wind farms made in Britain, rather than the less ambitious industry goal of 50%," it added.
The strategy was unveiled at the official opening of Lincs Offshore Wind Farm, which puts the UK's installed capacity of wind energy (onshore and offshore) at just over 10 gigawatts.
McCaffery said: "The UK's wind industry is celebrating a major milestone today - we now have more than 10 gigawatts of wind energy installed onshore and offshore - enough to power five and a half million homes.
Although this is a significant achievement, we must maintain momentum to reach our full potential, with wind playing an increasingly significant role in our energy mix, thereby reducing our dependence on expensive and environmentally-damaging fossil fuels".