Offshore Wind Potential in the UK

In our previous blog we mentioned that offshore renewable energy could be appealing to the UK government as it offered long term employment solutions in areas with long term employment issues. This week a report commissioned by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) states that offshore wind has the potential ability to revitalise areas on Scotland’s east coast with facilities at Dundee, Methil, Rosyth, and Nigg having the capability to support a number of projects due to be constructed in the North Sea over the next few years.

The report also confirms that with the correct approach numerous new jobs will be created and the entire east coast will become hub for the European Offshore Wind Industry. Benjii Sykes of Dong Energy the co-chairman of OWIC said at the launch of the report “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 co-ordinated approach as we seek to anticipate future demand, promote economic activity at existing ports and continue to build the supply chain.”

The OWIC have been working in partnership with the UK government since 2013 with the aim to develop the offshore wind industry and this latest report was announced by the then energy minister Andrea Leadsom in February.

Greg Clark, the current Secretary for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy said “The UK is the world leader in offshore wind and it’s important we make the most of the many jobs and business opportunities that arise from this growing industry. We’re making £730 million 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.”

Scotland, North East England, and East Anglia were all scrutinised to judge their capability at hosting such developments with the Scottish Government, the Department for International Trade and other agencies to were urged share findings and work together to maximise the economic benefits.

Fabrice Leveque of WWF Scotland said: “This report shows offshore wind could stimulate new economic activity in a number Scotland’s east coast ports, bringing new jobs as well as helping us meet climate targets.

“Although recent decisions by the Westminster Government have created uncertainty for the sector, the Scottish Government should drive progress by setting a new goal to generate 50 per cent of all our energy needs, across electricity, heat and transport, from renewables by 2030.

“This would help ensure that Scotland harnesses its natural resources and captures the benefits of moving to a zero-carbon society.”

The RSPB announced that they are on board with offshore wind especially those in deep water including floating turbines as they would strengthen support for renewables by mitigating wildlife and habitat impacts. In their recently published 2050 Energy Vision report they highlighted the need to meet energy and climate targets via renewable energy projects without risking wildlife in the UK.

The report also claimed that floating offshore wind projects could generate 5,800TWh of energy annually more than four time the country’s annual energy consumption.

Melanie Coath, senior policy officer at the RSPB said “The RSPB is clear that continued Government support for carefully-planned renewable energy into the 2020s is critical to the UK’s long-term energy strategy. There is also an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of innovative technologies like floating wind turbines, if we seize the opportunity now, and make sure we invest in understanding the impacts of those technologies so they can be rolled out in harmony with nature.”

The UK government has indicated that it is willing to support less conventional methods of renewable energy generation including offshore wind. The RSPB have stated they would support projects that have less impact of wildlife. Also they noted that support for offshore projects as well as other renewable energy generation models is vital to revive investor confidence that had dwindled since the government cut back on the support subsidies.

Although we believe that the development of onshore wind hasn’t been exhausted in this country and that it is still the most cost effective method of renewable energy generation we agree that less conventional methods of generation should be supported and promoted by our government.

Offshore wind generation and particularly floating wind turbines is an area which should be thoroughly utilised. As mentioned above the capacity could be massive, giving us the opportunity to sell green energy to the overseas markets. In addition they are kinder to marine wildlife plus they will help regenerated specific areas in the country, boost the local economy and provide jobs.

We wait with interest for the government’s next move.

 

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