UK is On Track to Miss its 2030 Offshore Wind Targets by 18 Years


Published Jun 9, 2024 2:27 PM by The Maritime Executive


The UK is second in the world after China in terms of offshore wind capacity, but a new report estimates that it could miss its 2030 offshore wind targets by as much as 18 years. The report - written by the London-based research firm Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) - says that the UK must triple installation of offshore wind in the next seven years if it is to achieve its 50 GW ambition by 2030.

The report also singles out wind manufacturing as a missed economic opportunity in the UK’s advanced offshore wind sector. The UK does not have any nacelle manufacturing facilities or any major player specialized in wind towers. If the UK had exploited its huge market for wind installation to the same extent as other leading European nations in wind manufacturing (such as Denmark, Germany and Spain), it would have generated up to an additional $38 billion in economic activity between 2008 and 2022.

Currently, China is leading in wind sector manufacturing, accounting for three-fifths of the world’s manufacturing capacity in wind nacelles and blades. In addition, the main builders of the specialized vessels for offshore wind deployment are also Chinese.

While the global manufacturing capacity meets the current demand for wind turbines, supply chain shortages are projected to start appearing in regions such as Europe from 2026.

IPPR argues that the UK can reduce its import and energy dependence through reviving its manufacturing industry to produce more wind components domestically. The study found that the UK could build at least one additional blade factory, two nacelle and tower factories and two extra foundation factories in less than five years. An investment of $4 billion in UK manufacturing facilities could generate tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs, particularly in small and medium enterprises.

“The IPPR’s report highlights the extraordinary opportunity that the UK has in new investment in offshore wind manufacturing. It will enable industry, governments across the UK and other funders to better align their investments to boost green jobs and manufacturing in the UK by mobilizing nearly [$3.8 billion] of funding nationwide, with private finance doing the heavy lifting. This will bring a return of [$9 for every $1] invested,” said Ajai Ahluwalia, head of supply chain at Renewable UK.

Meanwhile, IPPR also made some policy recommendations to spur the growth of UK’s offshore wind sector. These include a call to government to fix the current demand problem by ensuring developers have long term contracts, with the introduction of non-price criteria in Contracts for Difference (CfDs). An upgrade of infrastructure by renovating ports and maritime assets to deliver and install large-size offshore wind farms would also assist.