Circular Economy Could Create 20,000 Additional Jobs in UK’s Offshore Wind Sector

A circular economy around offshore wind could provide an extra 20,000 jobs across the UK, on top of the 60,000 projected by the UK Government to be employed within the sector by 2030.

This is according to a new report produced by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland, which focuses on the offshore wind sector in Scotland up to 2050 and says Scotland could capitalise on the job creation, as well as a 34 per cent reduction in carbon emissions, that the circular economy would bring.

The report, End of Life Materials Mapping for Offshore Wind in Scotland, is looking at circular economy opportunities created by the volume of projected growth across Scotland, following the Scottish Government target to increase capacity to 11 GW of offshore wind by 2030, the ScotWind leasing round, and the Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) leasing process.

If all proposed projects in the pipeline were successful, Scotland’s offshore wind capacity would reach almost 40 GW by 2033, according to the report, which comes as the Scottish Government is consulting on proposals to develop Scotland’s circular economy.

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The study identifies the quantity of materials needed to develop the Scottish offshore wind market, and highlights how these materials can be refurbished, remanufactured, and recycled from wind turbine decommissioning to reduce waste and generate economic opportunities.

The study calculates that the growth in offshore wind will require 14.7 million tonnes of steel, 8.36 million tonnes of concrete, and 1.54 million tonnes of ductile iron casting by 2050. Other consumables required include glass and carbon fibre, neodymium, and copper.

Offshore wind decommissioning in Scotland could generate from 1.5 million to 2.4 million tonnes of materials by 2050, with estimated up to 492 turbines to be decommissioned by that time. By 2065, this increases by an additional 1,718.

According to the report, investment in a circular economy is essential to recycling wind turbines domestically and meet the target of 60 per cent UK content for future offshore wind developments.

The report also highlighted that sustainability within the sector will require a variety of remanufacturing and reprocessing solutions for every wind turbine component, as well as recycling.

“Collaboration between offshore wind and other sectors will be crucial to accelerating circular economy technologies and supply chains. It is an exciting prospect to take this forward with industry partners, such as Zero Waste Scotland, and show how the wind turbine, the workhorse of the clean energy revolution, will take its next steps towards circularity”, said Andrew Macdonald, Director of Offshore Wind Development and Operations at ORE Catapult.

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