With one of the world’s best wind resources at our disposal, offshore wind energy could meet 35% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2030 and support 50,000 skilled jobs, according to a new Offshore Wind Vision document released today.
The vision document is being launched as part of Offshore Wind Week (16-20 November), a cross-sector initiative involving many of those responsible for licensing, developing, manufacturing, constructing and operating offshore wind farms in the UK. Offshore Wind Week is supported by organisations including Associated British Ports, MHI Vestas, the Offshore Renewable Catapult, RenewableUK, RWE, ScottishPower Renewables, Siemens, SSE, Statkraft, Statoil and Vattenfall among others.
The UK is already the world leader in deployment of this fast developing renewable energy technology with over 3.7 gigawatts (3,700 megawatts) of capacity – enough to power 3 million homes – built in the last five years alone.
“Offshore wind is one of the great UK success stories, unfolding at a time when the country is facing an energy security challenge and needs low carbon technologies to replace traditional power sources,” said Benj Sykes, Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council.
“It is only 15 years since the first UK offshore wind farm – just two 2 megawatt turbines – began operating. Since then the technology has matured rapidly to the point where the UK leads the world in deployment and could readily build 30 gigawatts of capacity by 2030 – enough to meet 35% of UK demand.”
He added: “The industry has shown it can deliver these large energy infrastructure projects to time and budget, but continued momentum is important to build investor confidence. Costs are falling rapidly thanks to investment in new technology and increased competition. As a result, the level of subsidy has fallen by 38% – this is a real success.
“What we need to see is a clear pathway for offshore wind through to 2025. This will provide the UK with the best opportunity for cost effective decarbonisation and ensure that we maximise the export opportunity for the UK supply chain.”
UK offshore wind is beginning to realise its export potential. Government assisted exports from local offshore wind companies in 2014-15 were alone worth £90 million, up from £1 million the previous year.
The vision document is being launched at a reception in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday
17 November, hosted by Peter Aldous, the Conservative MP for Waveney in Suffolk. This is one of a series of events being held this week to highlight the achievements and potential of the UK offshore wind sector.
Key points set out in the vision document include:
- Offshore wind is getting cheaper with the level of subsidy dropping by 38%. The technology is on track to be competitive with other new generation sources by the mid-2020s.
- Offshore wind has become the most productive of all the renewable technologies, and this improvement is set to continue. The newest wind farms are already operating at load factors of up to 50%.
- The sector is attracting global investment. Since 2010, the sector has attracted over £9.5 billion from investors encouraged by stable and predictable regulatory regimes for renewable energy.
- Offshore wind is creating skilled jobs around the country and already provides employment for 13,000 people. With continued deployment of offshore wind, that figure could grow to 50,000 people working in the UK offshore wind industry by 2030 across development, supply chain, construction and operational roles.