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Unlocking floating wind’s potential to deliver £43bn and 29,000 jobs for the UK economy

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15 September 2021

A new vision for the UK’s floating offshore wind sector has been launched today, summarising the industry’s current status, its progress towards commercialisation and the key enabling actions required to maximise the economic opportunity from its continued development.  

As the industry convenes in Aberdeen for Floating Offshore Wind 2021, Industrial Leadership: Unlocking the UK’s Floating Wind Potential has been published by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence (FOW CoE), in partnership with Renewable UK and Scottish Renewables.   

Drawing on learning and evidence from the FOW CoE and broader industry, the document provides an evidence-based set of enabling actions which, if delivered, will accelerate the growth of the UK floating offshore wind industry, enable the energy transition, support the delivery of a cost-effective Net Zero and drive regional economic growth. In addition, it will ensure the UK leads the world in the development of floating wind, exporting UK-based innovation, research and industrial activity globally.   

These actions combined form a coordinated industrial strategy and address key areas including:  

• Credible, Ambitious Policy Targets 
• Regional Development Strategy 
• Revenue Support Mechanisms 
• Intermediate Scale Project Activity 
• Long Term Spatial Planning 
• Technology Innovation 
• Strategic Infrastructure and Supply Chain Development 

Action now will ensure floating offshore wind delivers an excellent return on investment for the UK. Potentially, it can deliver £43.6bn in UK gross value add (GVA) by 2050, creating more than 29,000 jobs in the process – in return for an estimated £2.2bn in support in the early stages of development. Therefore, the UK Government’s announcement this week of dedicated support for the emerging technology in the 4th allocation round of Contracts for Difference, with £24m ringfenced for floating wind projects, is an extremely welcome move.   

Andrew Jamieson, CEO of ORE Catapult, said: "Delivering 100GW of offshore wind by 2050 represents a huge industrial challenge for the UK, but also a huge economic opportunity. Applied research and innovation, coupled with the right policy and regulatory environment, will be key to enabling the growth of the floating wind sector, in itself vital to achieving our offshore wind growth targets and Net Zero. By convening industry and Government through our FOW CoE, we can directly address the specific opportunities and challenges the UK faces and develop solutions to drive the commercialisation of the industry.”  

RenewableUK CEO Dan McGrail said: "Many countries around the world are eyeing up the huge industrial benefits that will come from being at the forefront of developing floating offshore wind turbines. As this report shows, floating wind is advancing so quickly that the Government’s 1 gigawatt target is no longer a world-leading ambition, but a fraction of what we could develop in the UK over the next decade. We’re urging Ministers to increase their current 2030 target and set a new 2040 ambition as a key step towards net zero emissions. This would boost investor confidence in the UK over competitor nations and kickstart the growth of a UK supply chain which can export worldwide.   

"The dedicated support announced by Government this week for floating projects in the upcoming CfD auction will help to ramp up floating capacity. This technology can repeat the spectacular cost reduction we’ve already seen in fixed-foundation offshore wind with vast economies of scale. Floating wind clearly has the potential to become cost-competitive by the end of the decade, benefitting consumers as a major source of low-cost clean power. Developing new port infrastructure so that the UK can handle the massive floating turbines of the future will help to revitalise coastal communities, creating more jobs in the clean energy sector."   

Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: "Floating offshore wind has a critical role to play in achieving the scale of installed capacity we need to meet our net-zero ambition. Scotland’s strong winds in the deep water sites that have already been identified coupled with our existing offshore expertise gives us a unique opportunity. We must act now to support and accelerate the growth of the sector to meet our climate targets and to reap the maximum socio-economic benefits this can deliver for Scotland and the rest of the UK. This report outlines coordinated, collaborative and strategic actions which would enable increased deployment; drive regional economic growth across the country; create highly-skilled, exportable jobs and maintain our position as a world-leader in floating offshore wind.”