Scottish and UK Energy Ministers – respectively Fergus Ewing and Michael Fallon – have given strong backing to the fast-growing British offshore wind industry with announcements aimed at encouraging the UK supply chain in offshore wind and remove important areas of uncertainty for developers taking forward offshore wind farms.
Speaking at an industry conference in Glasgow, Fallon said “Offshore wind isn’t just an energy sector, it’s a growth sector – and it’s vital that as the offshore wind sector grows, it strengthens its contribution to economic growth and creating jobs in the UK. More than 6,000 people are directly employed in the industry, with a similar number of indirect jobs in the supply chain”.
Announcing a review of the UK’s offshore wind supply chain, Fallon said “overall UK content in our offshore wind farms can be, and should be, much higher – especially in capital expenditure”.
The UK Energy Minister said he was ‘delighted’ that Siemens and ABP are investing £310 million in wind turbine production and installation facilities in Humberside, noting: “This will be one of the largest investments in Humberside in the last 50 years – it clearly demonstrates that the UK is THE market for the offshore wind sector”.
The review will identify further opportunities within the UK supply chain and examine how industry and Government can work to ensure that these are realised, reporting back to Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon in the autumn.
The Industry-Government working group is being led by Matthew Chinn, Managing Director, Siemens Energy UK and Ireland, who said: “The offshore wind industry is now taking off and the UK is the world’s biggest market for this industry.
“Siemens recent decision to invest in a UK manufacturing base demonstrates that the UK can attract substantial inward investment in the sector. I am pleased to have been asked to undertake this review as it will help the industry and Government understand what else needs to be done to attract further supply chain investment within the UK”.
In his speech, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing called for a clearer post-2020 trajectory to be set for the renewable energy sector, stating: “Industry has made it clear that longer term targets and commitments are fundamental to continued investment and a level of certainty is required to support supply chain investment – a necessary condition for competition, innovation and cost reduction.
But mixed messages from the UK Government over its energy policy including the recent carbon tax freeze, Conservative Party plans to scrap onshore wind subsidies post 2015 and the lack of a decarbonisation target until at least 2016 leave a high degree of uncertainty for investors”.
Meanwhile, Renewable UK published a new report which shows that by 2020, between 13 and 14GW of offshore wind capacity will be installed in UK waters – a more than threefold increase on current capacity of 3.65GW offshore.