Maximising economic benefit from offshore wind is key says a new report

Michael Fallon
Michael Fallon, Energy Minister

Maximising the economic benefit from offshore wind is a key priority for Government, reveals a new report yesterday.

The Offshore Wind Programme Board (OWPB) annual report explains how the board is pursuing a comprehensive programme of real action to drive down costs and maximise benefits to the UK economy – tackling issues from skills to innovation, from financing to contracting.

As of January 2014 the UK is the clear world leader with some 3.6GW of installed operating capacity, and a further 1.4GW under construction. Over one thousand offshore wind turbines have already been installed and the UK is the most attractive destination for investment in the world. DECC and Industry have set out a plan to continue to be the largest global market for offshore wind, with the scenarios recently published enabling deployment of 8-15GW by 2020, and up to 41GW by 2030.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said:

“The UK is the world leader in offshore wind – with more deployed than any other country, and a framework in place to retain our global lead. The benefits that offshore wind can bring are clear: as costs fall it can enhance our long-term energy security, reduce our dependence on imports and help reduce our carbon emissions. And, crucially, offshore wind can play a vital role in driving growth – adding billions of pounds of value to the UK economy and supporting thousands of jobs.”

2014 will be the year that the work of the OWPB moves from planning and establishment of structures to real delivery.

To enable the UK to retain its position as the world leader in offshore wind deployment, the OWPB has set out the following proposals:

  • Delivering the outputs identified by each workstream as crucial to delivery of cost reduction under the key headings of Supply Chain, Skills, Technology and Innovation, Contracting Strategies, Planning and Consent, Grid, Finance, and Operations and Maintenance.
  • Acting as a hub for developers and supply chain companies to share experiences and best practice to drive cost reduction – for example through “Project Developer Days” led by the Crown Estate.
  • Delivering work on measuring our progress against objectives of cost reduction and delivery of economic benefit to the UK.
  • Continuing to engage with our colleagues in other offshore wind markets who are also working on reducing levelised cost of energy. There is a significant opportunity to collaborate with other players in the NorthSeas region to deliver cost reduction and development at scale.
  • Ensuring we have the right objectives in light of the final design of Electricity Market Reform, and the level of deployment we expect to see through 2020.

BIS has also published a report on the offshore wind supply chain the UK demonstrating the UK’s opportunities for future growth.

The report highlights large future opportunities for the UK, not only in turbine supply, but in balance of plant components such as foundations and substations, and in the on-going operations and maintenance activity.

It found that concrete foundations provide a good UK supply chain opportunity for offshore wind given the high proportion of materials available for supply in the country. The report shows that opportunities for offshore turbine nacelle assembly in the UK are small currently, but the manufacturer of turbine towers represents a significant opportunity.

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