Britain may not always top the medal table when it comes to sport, but offshore wind means the nation has plenty to celebrate in 2018. Matthew Wright, Ørsted UK managing director, explains why…
There’s no doubt that 2018 is a busy year for sports fans – the recent Winter Olympics and Paralympics, Commonwealth Games and the upcoming FIFA World Cup to name just a few.
Before any big event, expectations run high regardless of which country or team you support and excitement can build to fever pitch.
Even those that would prefer to hide away with a cup of tea and a good book until all the sporting fervour has passed can find themselves getting pulled in.
It’s simple – moments like these create an enormous sense of pride and patriotism – and quite right too.
However, while sporting success is something that often seems just out of reach for British fans, our offshore wind industry is already gold medal winning and record-breaking – and one we should also be very proud of.
Last year, Britain accounted for more than half of the new offshore wind power capacity built in Europe, installing 53% of the net 3.2GW of capacity installed across the continent. A new personal best and a growth of 101% on 2016.
The latest figures from trade body Wind Europe, show that there is a cumulative installed capacity of 15.8GW of offshore wind across Europe, which is expected to reach 25GW by 2020. Looking longer term to 2030, the UK is tipped to hold its place at the top of the leaderboard – followed by Germany in second and the Netherlands claiming bronze – and produce around 25% of all its electricity through offshore wind.
It’s widely predicted that 2018 will be another record breaking year for offshore wind installation. For example, at Ørsted we have not one but two new offshore projects coming online – Race Bank, off the east coast, and Walney Extension, off the west coast, with the latter becoming the world’s largest offshore wind farm on completion later this year.
As well as producing clean energy, the industry is having a positive economic impact across the country – creating thousands of jobs, helping to grow local businesses and helping to regenerate communities.
An ever-greater number of UK firms are involved in the development, construction and operation of offshore wind farms. The report shows that 48% of the expenditure in planning, building and running the nation’s offshore wind projects goes to UK firms. This means that the industry has already almost hit its target to source 50% of its content from Britain by 2020.
There are countless examples of local companies getting involved in the offshore wind supply chain and these local “wins” are playing a vital part in the industry’s success story and long-term future.
For example, the first turbine blades produced by Siemens Gamesa’s factory in Hull are now producing clean energy out in the North Sea at our Race Bank project. The company has also now taken an order for the mammoth 81.5 metre blades that will be used at Hornsea Project Two.
Also in the Humber, our new operations facility is under construction in Grimsby, which will be the world’s largest hub for overseeing the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms – and it’s being built by local construction firm Hobson and Porter. Meanwhile, CHC Helicopters will use its base at Humberside Airport to transfer turbine technicians to and from offshore wind farms.
These positive moves, along with falling project costs, are helping the UK to maintain its position at the top of the league in offshore wind. They also make a strong case for our sector to play a central role in the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which aims to create a Britain that invests in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future.
So remember, even if England has another miserable World Cup – there’ll still be plenty to cheer about when it comes to green energy in 2018.