The 1,000th blade produced by Vestas in the UK

UK Industry Bodies Release Offshore Wind Industrial Growth Plan

RenewableUK, the Offshore Wind Industry Council, The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland have published an Industrial Growth Plan, setting out how to triple offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next ten years in the UK.

The 1,000th blade produced by Vestas in the UK. Source: Vestas

The UK offshore wind industry already employs 32,000 people and each new large offshore wind farm adds GBP 2-3 billion to the economy. Employment is set to rise to over 100,000 by 2030 and investment in new offshore wind projects is expected to create an economic opportunity worth up to GBP 92 billion for the UK by 2040.

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The measures set out in the Industrial Growth Plan (IGP) would create an additional 10,000 jobs a year and boost the UK’s economy by a further GBP 25 billion between now and 2035, if the offshore wind deployment is accelerated in line with the country’s net zero targets to 5-6 gigawatts a year, the report states. The UK has the second-largest global pipeline of offshore wind projects at all stages of development at nearly 100 GW – more than six times our current capacity.

As the Growth Plan’s analysis shows, supply chain constraints in many of the key components needed in offshore wind farms are already starting to be felt in the global market. The IGP identifies strategic new factories and manufacturing capabilities which the UK should build up to protect against supply chain risks and boost economic growth.

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The IGP also identifies five key technology areas in which the UK should prioritise investment to secure value for UK industry. These include the design and manufacture of offshore wind blades and turbine towers, foundations, cables and other key components and services for projects here and abroad.

The Growth Plan also highlights the industry’s potential to drive technology innovation, accelerate deployment and cut environmental impacts even further by incorporating automation and AI technologies in new projects. It sets out plans to expand testing facilities for cutting-edge technology, such as new materials for blades and designs for floating offshore wind platforms, as part of a focus on Research and Development at a potential new Advanced Technology Institute and a new National Innovation Hub, working in harmony with UK’s Catapult network.

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The plan aims to provide a shared vision which enables industry, governments across the UK and other funders to better align their investments to boost green jobs and manufacturing in the UK. The plan envisages mobilising nearly GBP 3 billion of funding nationwide, with private finance doing the heavy lifting. This is expected to bring a return to our economy of just under GBP 9 for every GBP 1 invested.

”Establishing this supply chain will take co-ordination and collaboration across UK governments and industry, and the IGP provides the detail needed to target those areas where we can have the biggest impact,” Gus Jaspert, Managing Director, Marine at The Crown Estate, said.

”As an early action, The Crown Estate is establishing a £50 million Supply Chain Accelerator to catalyse early-stage investment, with an initial £10 million pilot fund launching this summer to support supply chain opportunities created through the Celtic Sea Leasing Round 5 and a further £40 million earmarked aligned to the IGP.”

Industry will now take forward proposals to set up an IGP Delivery Body, in collaboration with key partners, which will set out the detail of how the IGP is delivered in a way that ensures the best use is made of funding provided by the industry, the UK government’s Green Industry Growth Accelerator (GIGA) fund, The Crown Estate’s Supply Chain Accelerator, Scottish Government funding and other sources. To meet the ambition of the Industrial Growth Plan, the Delivery Body should be established by the end of the year.

”Our Industrial Growth Plan is the deepest dive ever into the offshore wind supply chain, identifying the highest-value components and services which the UK should focus on to get the biggest economic bang for our buck from future wind farm development,” RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail said.

”For example, it shows that the UK will need three hundred giant turbine towers every year for offshore wind projects between now and 2030 to deliver Government targets. The plan charts a clear course for us to ensure that we seize that massive economic opportunity and maximise our opportunities to manufacture those towers here, along with more blades, cables, foundations and a whole range of other products. By using this as a blueprint to work closely with all our partners in the sector, we can triple the size of that supply chain, ramp up our offshore wind capacity significantly and secure a huge increase in jobs, all within the next ten years.”

The Industrial Growth Plan is part of wider efforts to boost investment in the UK in the context of increasing global competition for clean energy technology. Many of the UK’s competitors have introduced new incentives to attract investment in offshore wind projects and domestic manufacturing, hoping to replicate Britain’s success in offshore wind. The plan sets out a targeted approach which builds on our existing national capabilities, growing our economy, generating employment and securing the UK’s leadership in international export markets.

”Britain’s windswept shorelines give us a competitive advantage in the global race for energy. That’s why, since 2010, Britain has been second only to China in building new offshore wind farms. “The plans set out by industry today will work with our £1 billion Green Industries Growth Accelerator to make sure the UK can build the turbine blades and high-voltage cables that we will need to produce cheaper, cleaner, more secure energy,” the UK Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said.


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