By Andrew Jamieson, CEO at ORE Catapult
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced significant investment in UK port infrastructure, and huge enthusiasm for offshore wind and its potential to deliver net zero, create many thousands of jobs and increase UK businesses’ “competitive standing on the global stage”.
The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult sits at the heart of this opportunity, and we are clear in our own vision of how UK innovation can deliver on its potential. I’m delighted that yesterday’s announcement is just the beginning of the Government’s plans for a Green Industrial Revolution, and I’d like to set out how we believe we can maximise the UK growth from that revolution.
First and foremost, the commitment to supporting infrastructure and the UK manufacturing sector is tremendous. Many thousands of jobs can come not just from manufacture of turbines and their key components, such as blades, bearings, towers and foundations, but also the balance of plant that makes up over 50% of the investment in wind farm infrastructure, such as cables and grid. And the port infrastructure to support delivery and installation of that equipment is a critical enabler for our industry.
But there is so much more potential to be realised and, as we look to a green economic recovery, we need to be bold in our ambition to seize a massive share of a huge global market. We foresee an innovation and technology driven offshore wind supply chain that can be bigger and stronger than ever previously planned, addressing a market opportunity that stretches far beyond our domestic requirements, not to mention delivering upon environmental aspirations. And that is not just in turbine and infrastructure manufacture, but in supporting technologies such as robotics, data and digital and artificial intelligence for long-term smarter and safer operations and maintenance.
Now is the time to focus on specific investment and policy decisions that will in turn drive private sector confidence in future investment and deliver real economic benefits throughout the UK, but especially in economically deprived coastal towns and cities in the North East, the Humber, the South West of England, Wales and Scotland.
The PM has said that he has a ten-point plan and we look forward to learning more in the coming months, but here is our own nine-point plan of specific measures that could be implemented rapidly and to maximum effect:
The UK leads the world in offshore wind today; we have more experience of installing and maintaining offshore wind farms than anyone else, and future demand is not just here in the UK. With the right moves now to foster innovation, build on that UK capability and grow our supply chain, we can ensure many tens of thousands of jobs and many billions of pounds in economic activity – all delivering on our net zero commitments – over the next thirty years and beyond.