UK’s Offshore Wind Players Team Up for a New Vision

Crown Estate
File image courtesy of The Crown Estate

Published Nov 27, 2023 10:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

Faced with new challenges in the global energy market, the UK offshore wind industry has rallied together to take a new approach that secures near term objectives and long-term growth of the offshore wind market.

Last week, the UK offshore wind industry group Renewable UK together with the Offshore Wind Industry Council, The Crown Estate & Crown Estate Scotland announced they will be developing a new industrial Growth Plan (IGP) to boost long-term growth of the UK’s offshore wind sector. To achieve this, the consortium appointed KPMG for technical assistance in developing the IGP.

In the past decade, the offshore wind sector has been rapidly maturing, supported by government policies and ambition. Unfortunately, the current inflationary pressures and supply chain stresses are threatening to backtrack the progress so far made. To resolve these challenges, different countries have resorted to strategic planning in order to retain a competitive edge in the sector.

In the case of UK, the government last year appointed an independent advisor, the UK’s first Offshore wind Champion Tim Pick, who was tasked with engaging stakeholders across the sector to tackle barriers affecting deployment of offshore wind farms.

As part of Pick’s recommendations, he called for a ‘sober and thorough strategic competency analysis which takes into account the UK’s comparative advantages and opportunities for disruption.’ This effectively birthed the idea of an IGP, which Renewable UK said would build on a study that found a $115 billion opportunity for the UK if it developed capacity and expertise in a number of key offshore wind areas.

In addition, the IGP will also set out plans to build the UK’s competitive advantage in a growing global market, as well as close supply gaps that have put domestic targets at risk.

“The UK has a solid foundation on which to build a globally competitive supply chain but we are battling headwinds from high inflation, investment challenges and increased ambition from competitor nations. That’s why this is the right time to take a more strategic approach that defines our position and the unique value offering the UK can bring,” said Renewable UK CEO Dan McGrail.

European offshore wind stakeholders may soon face stiff competition from well-equipped, experienced Chinese competitors. China's wind project developers (some of whom build their own turbines) have a successful industry in their home market, and at least one - Mingyang Smart Energy - is making early steps to enter bidding in the UK and Norway. Mingyang is currently tied with domestic competitor Goldwind for the title of manufacturer of the world's largest turbine, a 16 MW model, and it is working on a 22 MW unit. The nearest European competitor is still testing a 15 MW unit.