A new strategic report of east coast port facilities has identified the enormous potential of the offshore wind sector to create jobs and accelerate wider economic growth on the east coast of Britain.
It has found that east coast ports, from East Anglia to Scotland, have the capability to support the ambitious pipeline of offshore wind projects which will be built out in the North Sea in the decades ahead. The construction of these major infrastructure projects will stimulate economic activity in some of the most economically deprived parts of the UK. It will also lead to the creation of more supply chain companies throughout the UK, serving projects in British waters and exporting goods around the world.
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, commented: “The UK is the world leader in offshore wind and it’s important that we make the most of the many jobs and business opportunities that arise from this growing industry.
We’re making £730m available for renewable electricity generation this parliament, sending a clear signal that the UK is open for business as we build a strong supply chain here.
The strategic review was announced in the House of Commons by former Minister of State for Energy Andrea Leadsom in February. It has been led by Benj Sykes of DONG Energy who is Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council. Eight other leading UK offshore wind developers were involved, including Statoil, ScottishPower Renewables, SSE, Statkraft, RWE, Vattenfall and Eon.
The team undertook a comprehensive review to identify opportunities to develop the UK’s east coast as a hub for the UK and European offshore wind industry.
They reported that a regional approach to developing manufacturing facilities on the east coast has the greatest potential to drive industrialisation and improve efficiency.
Benj Sykes said: “This review brought together a jointly-led industry and government team to look at some of the fundamental issues which need to be addressed if we are to maximise the benefits of offshore wind development on the East Coast of Britain.
“It will provide a springboard for further work to achieve a more coordinated approach as we seek to anticipate future demand, promote economic activity at existing ports and continue to build the supply chain.”
A report summarising the findings of the review, prepared by BVG Associates, noted a strong industry preference for using local ports for turbine staging activity – the storage of wind farm components and loading them on to vessels before installation.
“Based on anticipated deployment rate and assuming the prices charged by port owners are competitive, the UK has the capability to meet the turbine staging needs for all known future East Coast projects,” it said.
It also noted that the investments already made by East Coast port owners are likely to bring down the cost offshore wind projects.
The review acknowledged that a single large-scale staging and manufacturing centre could have benefits, but in practice this would be hard to achieve. Offshore wind projects have tended to form strong relationships with nearby ports. Industry experts expect this to continue with projects using local ports to drive efficiency in their construction work.
The review recommends that the Offshore Wind Programme Board should coordinate a regional programme of work, looking at the capability of ports in Scotland, the North of England and East Anglia to meet future demand for offshore wind farm staging work.
This will be followed by consultation with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Scottish Government, the Department for International Trade and regional agencies, to share findings and work together to maximise the economic benefits the offshore wind industry offers to the UK.