Clark MacFarlane, CEO Onshore NEME and UK MD at Siemens Gamesa, reflects on the importance of partnerships within the offshore wind and wider renewables market. He also introduces the brand-new Partnership Hub, which will be presented at #RUKGOW22 by Siemens Gamesa.
A wind farm is built in partnership. Many organisations and individuals are needed to plan, build and operate a site, so for the industry to thrive and meet targets, we need to work as a team.
The first challenge in building these partnerships is that we are naturally in competition – whether that’s to win auctions among developers, to build sites for turbine manufactures or vessel suppliers, for example. So, it’s important to find an environment where this competitiveness is neutralised or not relevant. We also have global teams, with new people and companies entering the industry all the time. We have to overcome physical distances to build effective working relationships.
How do you achieve this? There are two excellent mechanisms available. The first is conferences such as GOW22, which allows us to meet people, hear new ideas, network – all vital. The second option is being part of industry organisations, like RenewableUK or WindEurope. They provide a non-competitive environment in which to focus on what’s important to us all, but without the conflict of interest. This is where partnerships work very well, helping to develop solutions.
We have many outstanding customer relationships at Siemens Gamesa, some of which started in onshore wind, moved into offshore wind, and allowed us to develop solutions together. We have worked with everyone from planners, developers and banks to politicians and civil servants throughout our journey, allowing us to build an extensive network.
In the UK, this is best demonstrated in Hull, where we worked with ABP and the local council and politicians to develop the multi-prupose site. We have connected with local universities and schools, and companies outside renewables to create strong community partnerships and really help offshore wind to thrive in the region. We are supporting education for young people, encouraging the next generation of workers into offshore wind with a particular focus on bringing more females into the industry for improved diversity. Plus, those in higher education have applicable technical skills in logistics, O&M, data management and analysis, providing enhanced intellectual support for the sector moving forward.
So, why are we presenting the Partnership Hub at GOW22? Partnerships are in our DNA. We want long-term partnerships with employees, customers, supply chain and wind farms and so we play a big part in the industry. For example, we work closely with industry bodies, we were a major contributor to UK’s sector deal, and we are the largest investor in the supply chain and biggest employer of offshore wind in the country. We want to help others establish useful connections as we come together to grow the sector for the benefit of all and to tackle climate change.
We believe that GOW is the primary opportunity to discuss all matters relevant to UK wind farms, as well as enable lessons to be learnt with and from our overseas partners. It is an essential platform for getting up-to-date with the latest technology and ideas in the sector, which are constantly evolving and important for bringing down costs and accelerating growth in capacity. It also means we can keep up with the new people, ambitions and companies in the market. The agenda for GOW covers the topics we need to learn together. It also has prominent ministerial backing, so it provides an excellent connection that extends beyond the immediate industry for important stakeholders to be included within partnerships.
GOW is also face-to-face. I really believe that as an industry, we need to network. The best way to do this is at face-to-face events, where we can strengthen relationships, reconnect or connect for first time. There is a real appetite for people to get to know each other in the industry right now.
As such, I would hope that delegates attend GOW with two objectives. The first is to share opinions and ideas so we can get everything on the table and work with as much as possible to find solutions for the growth of our sector. The second is to better understand how we all fit within the future of global offshore wind and what we each offer the industry. The Partnership Hub will encapsulate all this and more. It will provide a place for everyone to meet the right people so that they know who to turn to or what to do as the industry develops.
Come and join us and make new friends.