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The future of offshore wind

The current landscape in offshore wind is full of promise and opportunity right now. Global net zero targets are driving widespread growth and investment in the sector as different countries look to replace traditional energy production systems with moresustainable alternatives. Widely heralded as a leader in worldwide offshore wind, the UK is looking to significantly scale up production and delivery for even greater green credentials in the years to come.

The great scale up

The scaling up of offshore wind is essential for the future of the market. This starts with the tendering process and the desire among industry to plan projects which will increase capacity in UK waters. The Crown Estate Scotland is leading the way in this area having recently awarded the rights for nearly 25GW of offshore wind development as part of the ScotWind seabed tender – that’s more than twice the size of current capacity for the entire UK. A total of 17 projects and 8,600km 2 won leases, with sites allotted for both fixed-bottom and floating wind farms. Winning tenders were awarded to Iberdrola, BP, Shell, SSE Plc, EnBW and Falck
Renewables SpA, among others.

The ScotWind process comes at a crucial time as gas prices soar. It will also continue to create new and exciting employment opportunities for the UK workforce (more on this shortly), while supporting the UK economy. To make it a real success, there are still several stages to go through. These include planning permissions, optimising electric grid capacity, sourcing turbines and support from the government.

A transferable workforce

As the industry grows, we need to think about where the increasing workforce will come from too. Fortunately, we have many avenues to pursue, with individuals from various industries who already have transferable skills. For example, many people who have trained to work on offshore oil and gas sites will have some of the experience required to perform various tasks on an offshore wind farm. There are also many individuals who are highly proficient in the transport of crew and
components to offshore sites, as well as various manufacturers and project management organisations which can lend expertise to the generation, transport and storage of green energy. Another invaluable source of skills and experience is the growing pool of ex-service people. It is estimated to be over 2 million armed forces veterans reside in the UK, with the percentage of working age veterans increasing. 1 Ex-military personnel possess many transferable skills which can be readily applied to offshore wind, having accrued extensive experience of working with multi-national teams and in high pressure situations, making them highly adaptable.

To improve the pathway for ex-service people to join the offshore wind sector, the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) has launched a Military Working Group. By identifying opportunities for individuals to find new employment and offering the support they need to excel in their new career, this is an exciting initiative which will help the workforce to grow as the industry evolves.

Join the conversation

If you’re interested in finding out more about this and the many other ways you could support the future of offshore wind, don’t miss Global Offshore Wind 2022 (GOW22). Presented by RenewableUK, the two-day conference will present a comprehensive programme of lectures, interactive sessions and workshops. It will provide valuable market insights, business discussions and intelligent trend analyses, with an array of leading individuals and organisations sharing exciting project updates from around the world. Focused on “The Next Generation”, the event will explore how we can work together to propel the offshore wind sector forwards and truly maximise on the potential for increased capacity and delivery. Following on from COP26 last year, the aim is to highlight the urgent need to tackle climate change and build on plans to enhance sustainability throughout the energy sector. Get involved and join the conversation to access 4,000 attendees, 130 exhibitors from 42 countries and 200 speakers this June. To facilitate speed, scale and skills, we need collaboration, innovation and passion – get it all at GOW22.

Realising the opportunities

As the offshore wind sector looks to ramp up energy generation, the UK is set to remain a trailblazer in the industry. The future of the market is bright, but it will require the merging of skills, technologies and ambitions for its full potential to come to fruition. Collaboration is key – together, we can build on our world-leading progress in offshore wind to support even the most aspirational net zero targets.