The economic potential of the UK offshore wind sector should not be underestimated, according to research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). Within just three years, offshore wind is forecast to contribute 0.2% of GDP, rising to 0.4% by 2020 and to 0.6% by 2030.
While this may seem a small contribution, it compares favourably to other sectors, such as agriculture (0.7%) and oil and gas (2% of GDP in 1997).
Almost 100,000 jobs are forecast to be created by 2020 by the UK offshore wind sector, according to CEBR, with 45,000 likely by 2015. Job creation could rise to 173,000 by 2030.
Just as important is the power of the sector to narrow the UK's worrying trade deficit. CEBR estimates that sales of offshore wind-generated electricity could contribute £18.8bn (€22.5bn) by 2030, which would equate to 75% of the country's current trade deficit.
Commissioned by wind energy developer, Mainstream Renewable Power, the report - entitled The macroeconomic benefits of investment in offshore wind - is a substantial piece of work and clearly designed to challenge offshore wind naysayers, who dismiss the sector as excessively expensive and dependent on government subsidy.
Turning this stereotype on its head, CEBR assesses the offshore sector as a driver of economic growth and a contributor to the UK's renewed economic strategy, which emphasises exports.