The pledge to expand offshore wind generation is the centrepiece of a sector deal, one of a number currently being negotiated between industry and Government.

Under the sector deals, which fall under the umbrella of the Government’s broader industrial strategy, Whitehall has pledged to provide support for key growth sectors of the economy.

The offshore wind industry aims to increase generation capacity from the 13GW deployed or contracted today, to 30GW by 2030.

This would enable offshore wind to meet one third of the UK’s electricity needs.

The industry’s vision for 2030 envisages £48 billion worth of investment in UK offshore wind infrastructure.

The deal estimates that the sector’s exports could increase five-fold by 2030 to £2.6 billion a year on the back of a global offshore wind market that is expected to grow to more than £30 billion per annum by the end of the next decade.

This expansion would support the creation of 27,000 skilled jobs across the UK, mainly located in coastal areas, compared to the 11,000 it employs today.

The shift to offshore wind, the cost of which has fallen dramatically in recent years, would also reduce total electricity system costs by £2.4 billion a year, according to an analysis commissioned to inform the sector deal.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge, the UK’s low carbon business ambassador and vice chair of the Committee on Climate Change, has been unveiled as the new sector champion for offshore wind.

Benj Sykes, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Baroness Brown will be championing this deal on behalf of our sector. She brings a wealth of experience from her positions across business, Government and academia. Her knowledge and skills will be invaluable as we continue to work with the Government to deliver the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy.

“We’re working together as a sector to partner with the UK Government and deliver our ambitious vision for the future of offshore wind. This deal comes at the right time for the offshore wind sector; we have grown rapidly and reduced costs much faster than anticipated.”

Fabrice Leveque, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, also welcomed Baroness Brown’s appointment.

“Offshore wind is a UK-wide success story, with recent cost reductions a testament to the sector’s ability to rise to a challenge.

“Scotland has a strong heritage of offshore expertise, as well as some of Europe’s best wind resources. This new deal is an opportunity to build on recent successes and ensure that the enormous potential for jobs and investment presented by offshore wind is shared across the UK.”

The announcement of the sector deal prospectus follows figures last weekend showing that record generation by windfarms over a 24-hour period.

According to the National Grid, wind generated 14.3 GW on Saturday (17 March), supplying more than a third of Britain’s electricity needs.

Grid figures show wind provided 35.7 per cent of our electricity on Saturday, outstripping all other sources of generation. Gas, nuclear, coal and imports supplied 20.3 per cent, 17.6 per cent, 12.9 per cent and 6 per cent of total generation respectively.

The nuclear industry is also negotiating a sector deal with the Government.

David Blackman

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title website, Utility Week

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