United Kingdom

United Kingdom

UK launches €112m scheme to boost offshore wind supply chain

Research body ORE Catapult's ten year plan will support companies currently in the supply chain and enable others to enter the UK's offshore wind sector.

Innogy', Sumitomo, ESB and Siemens Financial Services' 353MW Galloper wind farm off the south coast of England
Innogy', Sumitomo, ESB and Siemens Financial Services' 353MW Galloper wind farm off the south coast of England

Through its Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC), ORE Catapult will offer advice on manufacturing and commercialisation, and provide funding for innovation.

It expects to support more than 650 companies as part of the programme.

The Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP), funded by OWIC members, forms part of the sector deal agreed between industry and government in March

The deal lays out the route to increase offhsore wind capacity in the UK up from just under 8.2GW today to 30GW by 2030. 

Through the partnership, ORE Catapult will aim to enhance the ability of UK companies to export products and services around the world, enable companies from other sectors to enter the offshore wind supply chain, and inspire companies to develop the next generation of innovative projects.

It will begin with a four-month assessment of offshore wind foundations, with an focus on fixed-bottom structures, but future developments in floating wind will also be considered.

ORE Catapult will look at the current and projected requirements of foundations in the UK and abroad, identify barriers to growth and make recommendations to overcome these challenges.

It will identify key suppliers and assess reasons for their success, as well as buyers’ requirements in terms of price and quality.

The foundation study will be the first in a series of inquests into various parts of the supply chain, OWIC stated.

The OWGP will invite companies to apply for support on a regular basis, it stated. Its first pilot opportunity is expected to be in September, with further programmes stating in early 2020.

The OWGP will be governed by an independent board chaired by former McLaren Group CEO Martin Whitmarsh, who carried out a review of the UK offshore wind supply chain earlier this year.

Reaction

Lobbying group Scottish Renewables welcomed the launch of the OWGP.

Its director of communications Nick Sharpe described the programme as a "major opportunity for the UK supply chain to capitalise on a growing domestic and international offshore wind market".

However, the national secretary of trade union GMB said that potential benefits from the offshore wind sector had largely passed the UK workforce and the economy by.

Justin Bowden called for the establishment of an official register for all companies receiving public subsidies, a local content requirement for the UK offshore wind sector, and a nationally recognised collective bargaining agreement for the sector. He added that project owners should provide organisations tasked with balancing the grid with information on the output and performance in order to qualify for subsidies and that support schemes should be funded by progressive general taxation, rather than increased household energy bills.

Government figures published earlier this year showed that the number of jobs in the UK’s offshore wind sector more than doubled between 2015 and 2017.

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