A report commissioned by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) has highlighted opportunities available to UK companies of all sizes to get involved in the offshore wind supply chain and has called once again for clear targets for extra capacity.
The UK Offshore Wind Industry: Supply Chain Review by the former McLaren Group chief executive and Formula One team principal Martin Whitmarsh, provides an independent perspective on the sector, and makes a number of key recommendations for industry and government.
In order to compile the independent review, Mr Whitmarsh worked over the course of a year with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy UK managing director Clark MacFarlane, assisted by industry experts from innogy, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and ScottishPower Renewables.
The review states, “We should now encourage businesses to embrace the opportunities in offshore wind, establish know-how and global competitiveness to create enduring employment and export revenues as the worldwide market opportunity accelerates.
“In view of the very ambitious scale and cost targets now being set for the offshore wind sector, UK business needs to step up and provide a competitive offering and complement the existing supply chain.
“Furthermore, UK companies need to be encouraged to offer innovative and cost-effective services and technology to the sector. If this can be achieved, UK businesses and the overall economy can greatly benefit from the substantial offshore wind export opportunities that are now opening throughout the world.”
The review recommends that government should announce clear targets for offshore wind and commit to an extended pipeline of bi-annual contract for difference auctions of more than 2 GW of capacity a year, a figure that has several times been cited by the offshore wind industry as one that can maximise visibility and provide manufacturers with certainty and encourage investment. It suggests that offshore wind developers should publish clear lifecycle plans to show supply chain companies what they need, and when they will need it.
The report also recognises the urgent threat posed by climate change and urges government to set more ambitious targets to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, while encouraging more consumers to buy electricity generated from low carbon sources. It also suggests that households should be encouraged to store, use or sell electricity they generate from electric vehicles and domestic batteries as part of a modern, flexible energy system.
The OWIC is working with government on a Sector Deal which aims to deliver at least a third of the country’s electricity from offshore wind by 2030, attracting a further £48Bn (US$63Bn) investment in UK infrastructure. By this time the offshore wind industry will employ 27,000 people. The domestic and export market for offshore wind products and services provided by UK-based firms is expected to be worth nearly £5Bn a year by 2030.
Welcoming the report, OWIC co-chair Benj Sykes said, “We commissioned this independent review as we wanted a fresh look from an experienced industry leader not familiar with offshore wind. Martin Whitmarsh has a great track record in Formula One and in the automotive sector.
“The review highlights the extraordinary scale of the many multi-million pound opportunities for UK companies to become part of our fast-growing supply chain. Industry and government are finalising a Sector Deal which will set out how offshore wind can become the backbone of our energy system. This review makes clear that an ambitious, long-term strategy is vital to bring forward new investment in our supply chains and secure export growth.
“The UK’s global lead in offshore wind means we are uniquely placed to export not only our products but also our expertise to other countries, and it’s great to see the review highlighting the opportunity for the UK to develop innovative technologies needed for the next generation of offshore wind and winning orders in the rapidly expanding global offshore wind market. As an industry we have ambitious plans so we want to ensure UK companies benefit at all levels of the value chain”.
“We fully expect to have the Sector Deal agreed with government in the coming weeks and look forward to responding to Martin’s recommendations later in the year as implementation of the Deal gets underway.”