Offshore Wind Bonanza: Industry predicts £155bn economic boost through to 2030

Between 2022 and 2030 the UK offshore wind industry is set to help mobilise around £155bn in private investment in new projects, according to a major new report published today.

The UK Offshore Wind Skills Intelligence (OWSI) Report from the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) said the expansion in the UK’s offshore wind development pipeline and the government’s recently increased target for the sector meant average annual investment in new projects is set to jump to over £17bn a huge increase on the £10bn a year investment projected by the group last year.

According to the research, more than 31,000 people now work in the UK’s offshore wind industry or sectors which support it – a 16 per cent increase on the 26,000 jobs on 2021. However, RenewableUK predicted the sector is set to experience a decade long jobs boom , with the industry expected to support 97,000 jobs by 2030, in the form of 61,000 direct and 36,000 indirect jobs.

The findings reflect the expansion of the UK’s total pipeline of offshore wind projects at all stages of development over the past 12 months, which now stands at 86GW. The sector has seen a 60 per cent increase in its project pipeline in the past year, driven mainly by an 8GW leasing round announcement by The Crown Estate and a further 25GW proposed through the Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind round of projects.

The transition to annual auctions for Contracts for Difference – which previously held every two years – had also encouraged further investment as well as providing a faster path towards the energy independence, the report noted.

“The government’s Energy Security Strategy puts offshore wind at the heart of our future green energy system,” said Danielle Lane, co-chair of OWIC UK and country manager for energy giant Vattenfall. “We’re working closely with Ministers to pull out all the stops so that we can built vital new green energy infrastructure projects as swiftly as possible to boost Britain’s energy independence.”

The report also highlighted how the employment opportunities from the industry are spread widely across the UK, with 30 per cent located in Scotland and a further 15 per cent located in Yorkshire and The Humber

“This report shows that we’re making rapid progress in seizing the economic benefits of the Green Industrial Revolution, and that we’ll need to continue to grow fast to ensure that we meet the Government’s target of 50 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 – a fivefold increase in our current capacity,” said RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive, Melanie Onn, who leads the OWIC’s People and Skills workstream. “That’s why it’s important for industry and government to work together to address skills shortages in areas like electrical engineering and data analysis, so we can boost the number of high-quality green jobs in offshore wind throughout this decade.”

However, the research also pointed to potential recruitment gaps, including concerns over the number of candidates with high-level electrical and digital skills entering the sector. Moreover, the noted report that apprentices make up just two per cent of the offshore wind workforce, an increase of just 0.2 percentage points on the previous year. While the report suggested the modest increase in the number of apprentices is mainly due to the impact of the pandemic, it acknowledged the sector is some way off its target of ensuring 2.5 per cent of the workforce are apprentices.

Energy Minister Greg Hands hailed the report as evidence of the “extraordinary potential of renewable energy to create jobs, drive investment, and secure cheaper, clean electricity”.

“We have ambitious plans to go even further as the UK becomes a global renewable energy powerhouse,” he added.

The reports comes just days after subsea cabling specialist JDR Cables confirmed plans to build a factory for offshore wind farm cables had secured unanimous support from Northumberland County Council.

The decision confirmed last week will help bring over 200 high-skilled jobs to Cambois in Northumberland and follows on from the approval of plans to build the Britishvolt gigfactory to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles at a nearby site.

“It is schemes like this that will benefit the whole of Northumberland. Cambois is becoming a jewel in the crown industrial wise,” said Councillor Alex Wallace, who represents the area. “There aren’t enough people in Cambois for all the jobs – it will be the youngsters of tomorrow that will be coming through the doors.”

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