The UK needs to create a supply chain in order to reap the economic benefits of the wind energy revolution, according to a report published today. Making green growth real: UK offshore wind supply chain outlines the conclusions of a meeting of the offshore wind industry convened by the Royal Academy of Engineering and OrbisEnergy, the East of England technology, innovation and incubation hub for offshore renewables.

At the roundtable meeting in March 2011, chaired by Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley, industry representatives discussed ways in which the government can support the industry in four key areas: infrastructure, skills, investment and health and safety.

According to the report, the UK faces a huge challenge in developing offshore wind over the coming decade. The 13GW scenario set out in the government’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan requires a tenfold increase in capacity between now and 2020.

The report says that it is vital that the UK gains the greatest possible value from this expansion through jobs and wealth creation. Crucial to this, says the report, is establishing a supply chain. The report calls for government to:

  • develop a UK wide strategy focusing on a select number of ports spread around the coast;
  • increase the total pool of skilled workers available to the energy industries;
  • ensure that the Health and Safety regime for offshore wind is rational, clear and tailored to the specific risks of offshore wind;
  • honour the timetable for Electricity Market Reform;
  • provide clarity on how the transition to Feed-in Tariffs will work;
  • kick-start investment with targeted financial support during the construction phase, through loan guarantees or similar products delivered by the Green Investment Bank;

Government should also indicate its intentions for further development rounds. The prospect of sustainable growth in the long-term would provide extra confidence for supply chain companies looking to invest.

“The government supported the oil and gas supply chain in its early days: with generous tax incentives; training programmes; strategic infrastructure; and supportive regulation,” says Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley. “The result today is a world leading industry, creating jobs in manufacturing and engineering across the UK. The UK oil and gas supply chain generates £16bn each year, including £5bn in exports, and employs more than 300,000 people in the UK. That is a valuable economic legacy, which was accelerated by early government support, and which can now be repeated for offshore wind.”

Lord Browne will host a meeting in Parliament this afternoon (13 June) for MPs and Peers to discuss the issues around offshore wind development.

Notes for editors

  1. The Academy report Making green growth real: UK offshore wind supply chain is available:
    www.raeng.org.uk/offshorewind (1.19 MB)
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton