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Offshore Wind: The Global Opportunity

RenewableUK's Head of External Affairs, Luke Clark, outlines the key challenges and opportunities for offshore wind as we scale-up our ambitions, and which will be at the heart of #RUKGOW19

The global outlook for offshore wind has never been stronger. RenewableUK’s latest Project Intelligence report shows the global pipeline of projects continues to grow, both in established European and emerging global markets. Rapid developments in technology, markets and policies are transforming the economic and energy opportunity of offshore wind. These issues will be front and centre when the industry gathers in London in June for Global Offshore Wind 2019.

The UK is the home of offshore wind and the most exciting market in the world in 2019. The Offshore Wind Sector Deal that industry recently agreed with the UK Government puts offshore wind at the heart of the UK’s energy system, with at least 30GW installed by 2030. This year new auctions in the UK will deliver up to 6GW of new capacity at record low prices. The UK may be the first country to make offshore wind the backbone of a clean energy system – but I’m certain it won’t be the last.

Delivering the global potential for offshore wind will create opportunities for investment and exports in both new and established markets. In the UK, the industry has committed to investing £250m in our supply chain, to help firms stay competitive at home and abroad. We know that investment in our supply chain and new technologies is vital to grow our exports to the £2.6bn per year – a five-fold increase – that we want to see in the next decade.

We know from experience that investing in cutting-edge new technologies is essential to cutting costs and supporting growth. The UK is at the forefront of the AI, robotics and data revolutions; innovations that will help transform the UK’s energy system and set global trends in new markets.

RenewableUK recently announced that we’re working with Scottish Renewables and leading players in floating offshore wind to develop a vision for the sector that will see this technology play a key role in delivering our sector deal and decarbonisation goals. If we can succeed in building on the UK’s record of pioneering floating wind, this will open-up new opportunities and markets across the globe.

Realising the opportunity of offshore wind, however, depends on more than technology. Across the globe, we need to invest in the people who will be the innovators and industry leaders that keep pushing the boundaries of our ambition. In the UK, we want offshore wind industry to be the number one choice for young apprentices, STEM graduates and people moving out of traditional energy industries.

By 2030, the UK offshore wind sector will need at least 27,000 workers – more than double the current workforce. The industry is stepping up our ambitions to create a more diverse workforce that attracts talent from all backgrounds, and we’ve set a new target to double the proportion of women in the sector. Our goal is to attract the very best talent as we grow, by investing in new talent and making it easier for experienced people from other parts of the energy sector to move into offshore wind.

Offshore wind can be a catalyst for transforming the energy industry and decarbonising economies by providing abundant, low cost, clean power in markets across the globe. The Sector Deal is the clearest signal yet that offshore wind will be at the heart of the UK’s energy transition. But achieving this, both in the UK and globally, will mean responding to the challenges and opportunities ahead with the same determination that the industry has shown to get to this point. The issues that are key to this transition – growing international markets, investing in our supply chains, sparking future technologies and building a modern workforce – will be at the heart of Global Offshore Wind 2019 and I hope that you will be able to join us in London.



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