Plans to build floating windfarms in the Celtic Sea to generate clean power and create green jobs have taken a major step forward after being shortlisted by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator has been chosen to work up a detailed bid for over £30M (US$39M) of potential government funding provided through UKRI’s flagship Strength in Places Fund. UKRI is providing £50,000 of early-stage funding to support development of the bid following a successful stage one application.
The project aims to build on Cornwall and Plymouth’s expertise in offshore renewables and research to fast-track the construction of large-scale floating offshore windfarms in the Celtic Sea from the mid-2020s onwards.
The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator is being led by Wave Hub, the Cornwall Council-owned marine renewables research and technology organisation, in collaboration with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, A&P Group, Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council.
A report published earlier this year by ORE Catapult and commissioned by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and the Welsh Government said a floating wind industry in the Celtic Sea could support 3,200 jobs in the southwest and Wales and £682M of spend in the local supply chain by 2030, powering hundreds of thousands of homes. Nationally the industry could support 17,000 jobs and generate £33.6Bn of economic activity, with huge export potential.
The UKRI’s first stage award will allow the project partners to work up a full stage bid for submission to the SIPF in November, which has £236M available in the latest funding round and makes awards of between £10M and up to £50M in exceptional cases. Awards will be announced next year.
The quality of the southwest’s bid was commended by UKRI’s lead on the Strength in Places Fund, David Sweeney. Wave Hub executive chair Steve Jermy said, “We are delighted that UKRI has recognised the strength of our bid and that we can progress to the next round.
“The great southwest has the potential to make a decisive contribution to the UK’s offshore wind energy targets by developing a new floating wind industry that can create thousands of jobs with huge export potential.”
University of Plymouth head of engineering, computing and mathematics, and director of the Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy Hub Professor Deborah Greaves OBE said, “The southwest is perfectly placed to advance the development of offshore renewable energy on behalf of the whole country – something that has been acknowledged by UKRI through this funding award.
University of Exeter deputy head of engineering Prof Lars Johanning said, “The deployment of industrial scale floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea represents a once in a generation opportunity to drive investment and economic growth in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Wales and the southwest. Developer interest and activity has already commenced and there needs to be an industrial response to the supply chain opportunity. This has now seen a further boost.”
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