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Offshore Wind Industry Unveils Plan To Triple Manufacturing

A coalition of industry bodies has unveiled a plan to triple the ability to manufacture offshore wind turbines in the UK in a bid to meet the government’s rapidly approaching energy decarbonisation deadline.

RenewableUK, the Offshore Wind Industry Council, the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland have all signed up to the Industrial Growth Plan, which will supposedly support an additional 10,000 jobs a year and boost the UK’s economy by £25bn between now and 2035.

According to the plan, the UK needs around 300 giant turbine towers to be built every year between now and 2030 to deliver meet the targets.

But the analysis also finds that supply chain constraints in many of the key components needed in offshore wind farms are already starting to be felt in the global market, and that the UK should build “strategic” new factories and manufacturing capabilities to help it overcome supply chain risks.

According to RenewableUK, the domestic offshore wind industry currently employs around 32,000 people and each new large offshore wind farm adds £2bn to £3bn to the economy. The number of employees is expected to rise to over 100,000 by 2030. The UK has the second-largest global pipeline of offshore wind projects at all stages of development at nearly 100GW – more than six times the current capacity.

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The plan also calls on the industry to incorporate new technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence to speed up testing and manufacturing of new turbines. An estimated £3bn in funding will be needed nationwide, with a significant proportion of this coming from private finance.

“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,” said Dan McGrail, RenewableUK’s chief executive.

“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.”

Energy security secretary Claire Coutinho said: “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.

“The plans set out by industry today will work with our £1bn Green Industries Growth Accelerator to make sure the UK can build out the supply chain – including the turbine blades and high-voltage cables that we will need to produce cheaper, cleaner, more secure energy.”

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National Grid’s Electricity System Operator recently called for a £58bn revamp  of the energy grid to give it enough capacity to accept the raft of new offshore wind facilities coming online.

Source: E&T

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