UK Needs Supply Chain to Reap Benefits of Wind Energy

The UK needs to create a supply chain in order to reap the economic benefits of the wind energy revolution, according to a report published today. Making green growth real: UK offshore wind supply chain outlines the conclusions of a meeting of the offshore wind industry convened by the Royal Academy of Engineering and OrbisEnergy, the East of England technology, innovation and incubation hub for offshore renewables.

At the roundtable meeting in March 2011, chaired by Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley, industry representatives discussed ways in which the government can support the industry in four key areas: infrastructure, skills, investment and health & safety.

According to the report, the UK faces a huge challenge in developing offshore wind over the coming decade. The 13GW scenario set out in the government’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan requires a tenfold increase in capacity between now and 2020.

The report says that it is vital that the UK gains the greatest possible value from this expansion through jobs and wealth creation. Crucial to this, says the report, is establishing a supply chain. The report calls for government to:

develop a UK wide strategy focusing on a select number of ports spread around the coast;

increase the total pool of skilled workers available to the energy industries;

ensure that the Health and Safety regime for offshore wind is rational, clear and tailored to the specific risks of offshore wind;

honour the timetable for Electricity Market Reform;

provide clarity on how the transition to Feed-in Tariffs will work;

kick-start investment with targeted financial support during the construction phase, through loan guarantees or similar products delivered by the Green Investment Bank;

Government should also indicate its intentions for further development rounds. The prospect of sustainable growth in the long-term would provide extra confidence for supply chain companies looking to invest.

The government supported the oil and gas supply chain in its early days: with generous tax incentives; training programmes; strategic infrastructure; and supportive regulation,” says Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley.

The result today is a world leading industry, creating jobs in manufacturing and engineering across the UK. The UK oil and gas supply chain generates £16bn each year, including £5bn in exports, and employs more than 300,000 people in the UK. That is a valuable economic legacy, which was accelerated by early government support, and which can now be repeated for offshore wind.”

Supporting the report is Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney who said “We know that offshore wind is a key growth sector for the economy and we are committed to ensuring companies in the UK benefit from this huge opportunity.

Not only can offshore wind generate significant amounts of electricity, it can support a new generation of engineering skills creating long term jobs which will be key to sustainable growth.

Judy Terry, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Greenest County, Economy and Skills said “It’s well known that the offshore wind industry is a critical source of future energy supply for the UK and is a sector of the economy which has still to fully mature. This report not only highlights the challenges in developing a UK supply chain, but proposed solutions that can drive growth

Lord Browne together with Minister of State for Energy Charles Hendry and Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Chair of PRASEG, the Associate Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group, jointly hosted a meeting in Parliament on 13 June for MPs and Peers to formally launch the report and discuss the issues around offshore wind development.



Source: orbisenergy , June 15, 2011; Image: euinfrastructure