Offshore wind: 'The transformative potential is now clear' #RUKGOW18

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 19 Jun 2018

A leading figure in offshore wind has addressed industry, describing it as an “extraordinary time” with the “transformative potential now clear”, as the world’s largest sector conference gets underway in Manchester.

Hugh McNeal, chief executive of Renewable UK, will tomorrow welcome Energy Minister Claire Perry and Westminster’s offshore wind champion, Baroness Brown, fresh from her watching-brief appearance at the inauguration of Race Bank last week.

In a statement ahead of the huge event, Mr McNeal - who was part of the civil service team tasked with landing Siemens in Hull before joining the trade body – said: “We come together at an extraordinary time for our industry. The transformative potential of offshore wind is now clear, not only to us in the sector but to our Government and the rest of the world. 

“You all can be proud of what you have collectively achieved; innovation as standard in how we work, cost reduction faster than most predicted and a supply chain which extends across the UK and around the globe.

“The UK has led the doing and the learning in offshore wind. Thanks to this we are now seeing governments and markets around the globe looking to replicate what we have achieved. We’re seeing a boom in new markets and increased ambition for offshore wind internationally, and it’s great to see us welcoming so many international visitors and delegations to #RUKGOW18.

“With so much rapid change in our sector, #RUKGOW18 is our industry’s opportunity to meet with clients, hear the latest updates on policy and technology, and catch up with colleagues old and new. I am pleased with all my team has done to shake up the event, keeping it relevant to you and building in more and better opportunities for you to do business.

“I am pleased that so many companies and senior industry are using #RUKGOW18 as your meeting place, I hope we will see you there too. Having an event for our whole industry where we can celebrate our achievements and look ahead to our new challenges and opportunities is critical for our progress.”

Open today and tomorrow, a large delegation from the Humber will be present with Team Humber Marine Alliance, Invest NEL, Greenport Hull and Grimsby Renewables Partnership all represented. will be there too.

The first substation base, or jacket, at Hornsea Project One, installed in recent weeks. 

Mr McNeal added: “Make sure you join us in Manchester to be a part of this conversation. If you have yet to book, don’t miss the best opportunity in 2018 to put what you and your company does at the heart of the offshore wind industry and join us to celebrate how we are transforming our energy system.”

His comments came as it was revealed the portfolio of global offshore wind projects in operation, under construction or in development grew by over 10 per cent in the last year.

The new figures from RenewableUK’s Offshore Wind Project intelligence show that the global pipeline of offshore wind projects stands at over 104 gigawatts (GW), up from 95GW in June 2017.

The new figures show the UK retaining the top spot as the largest offshore wind market in the world with a portfolio of 35.2GW, followed by Germany (23.4GW), Taiwan (8.3GW), China (7.7GW) and the USA (7.5GW) rounds out the top five. These countries share just under 80 per cent of the global market.

Grimsby alone will be the operational base - the power station entrance - for 7.3GW, a fifth of the UK's entire installed capacity, once fully developed. This includes Hornsea Round Three and Triton Knoll, but not Dogger Bank farms, for which the Humber could also play a role. 

The latest figures do not include possible extensions of existing wind farms totalling nearly 3GW recently announced by The Crown Estate – which could push the UK even further ahead when they are confirmed next summer. None of these are focused on Humber farms.

The UK retains its global number one position in a year which saw auctions for new power contracts (Contracts for Difference) secure offshore wind at half the price of auctions in 2015, making new offshore wind cheaper than new gas and nuclear power plants.

Mr McNeal said: “Our industry is already delivering for the UK and we want to go further, with offshore wind as the backbone of a clean, reliable and affordable energy system. To achieve this ambition, the industry will invest tens of billions of pounds, creating thousands of skilled jobs and supporting prosperous communities across the UK.

“Offshore wind is a global growth opportunity and a major energy source. The sector will be worth over £30 billion worldwide by 2030 and UK companies must be ready to seize opportunities in new markets. We are transforming the UK supply chain, as we grow our exports five-fold by 2030.”

The offshore wind industry in the UK recently announced details of its 2030 vision for the sector which would see 30GW of operational capacity installed by the end of the next decade, providing 30 per cent of UK power needs (up from 7.1GW at present). This would lead to a doubling of jobs to over 27,000. Industry is currently working with Government on a Sector Deal to secure this. Between 2017 and 2021 investment in new offshore wind capacity is expected to total over £18.9 billion.

Coming next? Triton Knoll offshor wind farm, which will be built with MHI Vestas turbines, if given final decision. 

Innogy’s largest offshore market is in the UK, where it operates over 1GW of offshore wind power. Triton Knoll, likely to be based on the South bank of the Humber, is anticipating financial investment decision in the coming weeks. Innogy’s director of offshore investment and asset management, Richard Sandford, said: “The UK has demonstrated true transformational growth, from the early days of our North Hoyle project, the UK’s first commercial scale offshore wind farm, to the modern technologically ground-breaking turbines being installed today. 

“We’re seeing bigger more powerful turbines, further from shore and in deeper waters, with developers like ourselves installing faster than ever. At the same time, the growth in offshore wind has created an industry of manufacturers and suppliers that are becoming increasingly innovative and expert, and are helping positioning the UK as a world-wide hub of offshore expertise.”

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