UK Offshore Wind O&M Market for Robotics to Double by 2050

Accelerating the development of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) will be a significant enabler to reaching net-zero targets, according to new research from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, which estimates that the global robotics market in the wind energy industry, both offshore and onshore, will be worth GBP 1.3 billion (around EUR 1.5 billion) by 2030, increasing to GBP 3.5 billion (around EUR 4 billion) by 2050.

While an estimated value of the global robotics market in the wider energy sector is expected to reach GBP 8.4 billion (around EUR 9.8 billion) by 2050, this part of the oil and gas sector is anticipated to reduce from its peak of GBP 5 billion (around EUR 5.9 billion) in 2030 to GBP 3.3 billion (around EUR 3.9 billion) twenty years later.

The UK market for robotics in offshore wind operations and maintenance (O&M) is set to double in size by 2050. The expansion of offshore wind will offset many of the oil and gas jobs set to be lost over the next 30 years, with RAS expected to create a 200,000 net jobs boost across all UK sectors by 2038.

“As we continue to work towards achieving Net Zero, it is clear that robotics will play a key part. The opportunity this presents for the UK is significant – across the supply chain we can create jobs, upskill our energy workforce, build export potential and add value to our economy”, said Gavin Smart, Head of Analysis & Insights at ORE Catapult.

“Cutting-edge research and development into robotic technologies for offshore wind is already taking place, right here in the UK. We are building a position as a pioneer and expert in this field, which opens up a multi-billion pound domestic and export market over the coming decades”.

According to ORE Catapult, the UK’s export potential in this part of the offshore wind market is even greater and set to grow 410 per cent, increasing from GBP 235 million (around EUR 275 million) in 2030 to GBP 1.2 billion (around EUR 1.4 billion) in 2050.

“The UK is targeting a seven-fold increase in offshore wind capacity by 2050, and with this growth comes the need for more operations and maintenance (O&M) activity. With windfarms set to be located in deeper, more remote, often challenging waters, securing safe access for humans will be a significant industry challenge”, ORE Catapult states.

“Accelerating and investing in the development of advanced RAS will mitigate this risk and means robots will handle not only routine maintenance tasks, but also improve pre-emptive maintenance, which will extend the life of components and turbines at sea, supporting the industry’s waste reduction drive”.

The global wind energy O&M market, both onshore and offshore, will grow from GBP 51 billion (around EUR 59.6 billion) in 2030 to GBP 120 billion (around EUR 140 billion) in 2050 and while robotics will account for a share of this, these technologies will also combine with data and digital solutions and other forms of O&M to increase that market share, according to ORE Catapult’s report.

Photo: Wind turbine inspection robot, Amphibian; Photo source: ORE Catapult