That is the key conclusion of a new report from the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) and trade body RenewableUK, which claims that wind products and services provided by UK-based firms are expected to be worth £4.9bn a year by 2030.  

Published on Monday (1 October), the Offshore Wind Industry Prospectus reveals that if the UK Government was to publish a Sector Deal requiring at least a third of the nation’s electricity to be generated from offshore wind by 2030, the industry would employ 27,000 workers.

The 21-page document also hails UK companies as world leaders in key services such as designing, building and operating offshore wind farms, as well as manufacturing blades and cables. It claims that the likes of China, Germany, India and the US are likely to seek British expertise on offshore wind in the near future.

The report has received backing from Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry, who said the UK has “helped to realise an extraordinary coming of age for the global offshore wind sector”, setting the nation up to “reap the reward in new export markets, alongside building on its successes at home”.

The publication comes shortly after the Government announced plans to ensure that an additional 1-2GW of capacity is added to the UK’s offshore wind sector each year through the 2020s.

Perry said that while the UK’s supply chains for offshore wind projects are “strong” and set to expand along with capacity, she believes there is more to be done to ensure the commitment “translates into a comprehensive industrial success story”.

“I want to see the UK supply chain increase its global competitiveness by building on areas of strength, capitalising on our world-leading research base to drive innovation, creating new British manufacturing capability and attracting new supply chain players to the UK – while continuing to drive down costs,” Perry added.

Solar surges and wind droughts

In related news, The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has this week published its latest quarterly “Energy Trends” report, which reveals that renewables generated a record 31.7% of the UK’s electricity between April and June.

The statistics show that wind and solar PV generation increased by 0.3% to 14.9TWh during the three-month period, with solar leading the way as average daily sun hours hit nearly seven per day – the highest level recorded since 2011.

Meanwhile, wind generation alone increased by 0.1% compared to the same period in 2017, as a 15.8% increase in capacity was offset by low wind speeds.

Energy UK’s chief executive Lawrence Slade said that the figures show that low-carbon generation is beginning to play a “significant role” in the UK’s energy mix.

Echoing Slade’s sentiments, REA’s policy and external affairs director James Court said: “The record renewable power generation is a significant achievement for the industry. Renewables have never been more affordable and accessible as they are now, and this is reflected in the data.”

However, Court also expressed disappointment at the low level of solar installations and re-iterated the REA’s call for alternative support for solar projects once the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme closes next April.

“Figures show that the lack of support is already having a significant impact on solar power for example which is currently the cheapest option for new power generation,” Court added.

“Government must introduce alternative support and unlock a route to market if the UK is to benefit from cheaper, greener and smarter energy.”

Sarah George

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