By Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research & Disruptive Innovation Director, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult
One year ago this week, the UK Government and offshore wind industry agreed a ‘Sector Deal’ that charted the course to develop unprecedented levels of offshore wind in UK waters, create billions of pounds of investment, thousands of jobs and significant volumes of UK exports.
Since then the Committee on Climate Change “Net Zero” report set out analysis showing that at least 75GW of offshore wind will be required by 2050 if we are to meet our climate change targets. The Government has responded with an increased aspiration for 2030 of 40GW up from an original 30GW. Whichever numbers you choose to look at, it’s clear that offshore wind will be the mainstay of the UK’s future energy system, providing clean, affordable electricity to power our homes, businesses and transport.
This boom in offshore wind in our waters has created a huge economic growth opportunity for coastal areas of the UK which are all too often the parts of our country most in need of being placed on an even keel. Towns along our coast such as Blyth, Grimsby, Lowestoft, Pembroke and Falmouth, once home to large fishing fleets and maritime industries, stand to benefit from the ocean once again. Key to capturing this opportunity will be the development of UK supply chains for all phases of the project life cycle; from site identification and marine surveys, through the construction phase and during long-term wind farm operations.
At the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, we are at the heart of this revolution and growth. We are already working with established UK companies who are now supplying sub-sea electrical cables, innovative start-ups developing novel turbine blades or making robots to inspect foundations, and universities developing new software to control the turbines themselves.
Our vision is to catalyse clusters of activity with world-renowned expertise up and down our coast. Catapult Centres of Excellence in the North East of England, the Humber, the South West of England, Wales and Scotland, will have the expertise and facilities vital to help UK companies develop the products and services to power the offshore wind sector and re-power local economies. It’s going to be a team effort for which we need all on board, from the companies who are building wind farms to the leading universities, and the most innovative small businesses.
Today, the UK leads the world in offshore wind and ORE Catapult is placing coastal communities at the heart of capturing this exciting opportunity. We are on the ground helping innovators accelerate their ideas and grow their businesses; not only will offshore wind help deliver on Net Zero, it has the potential to create huge UK economic benefit and help power the UK economy.