Businesses must not miss the offshore wind boat

21st November 2016

Up to 675GW of economically-feasible installed offshore wind farms is the estimated potential capacity off UK shores stretching decades into the future. So far, just 3GW has been installed, which is only a drop in the ocean – just 0.5% of the estimated potential capacity.

When it comes to noughts in figures, offshore wind is the industry with some of the longest numbers today. Some £18,000,000,000 is to be invested into offshore wind in the next five years alone. This prediction lays out decades of business opportunities for the developing supply chain working with offshore wind developers to plan, construct and maintain these farms.

If the gargantuan estimate is ever achieved, 675GW would provide more than six times the UK’s current electricity demand, leading the UK to become a major exporter of renewable energy to the continent, where offshore wind is also enjoying accelerated growth.

A key growth driver in Europe, with the Asia and the US fast pushing forward with their plans to make offshore wind an integral part of their national energy mix, the doors are open for years for companies to not only serve the domestic market, but export their skills abroad.

The Department for International Trade (formerly UK Trade & Investment) estimates that by 2020, £40bn in supply and construction contracts could be awarded for offshore wind farms in the rest of Europe.

These figures, coupled with the hope and encouraging noises of developers and governments, represent a lucrative carrot for any business planner in engineering, technology, logistics, marine and any of the services that can help developers push down the costs of offshore wind to meet the targets above.

It’s time to get down to some serious R&D, adapting and evolving within this fast moving marine industry, the danger is that if companies don’t act now they will miss the boat.

For oil & gas companies anxious about where the next contract will come from, developing their services to meet the demands of offshore wind – same sea, similar systems technologies – is a logical step.

SCORE’s £6m grant fund can help SMEs develop their ideas to contribute to the lower cost of offshore wind. The fund has now been rolled out across England, as long as applicants can show their work will bring economic benefit within the eastern counties of Cambridge, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Europe’s commissioned offshore wind capacity is estimated to grow at an average rate of 3GW s year until 2025, when it should have grown to 39.2GW. Rarely has there been an opportunity for businesses to have so many doors open to them at home and abroad for their skills and services.

All businesses need to do is show how their services, ideas or technology will save money in the industry, contributing to the drive for it to become self-sustaining and subsidy free. They need to be bold and brave with their thinking and planning and be quick. Many ahead of the game are already exploiting this time of the weak pound to make their services the most cost competitive in Euro and US markets.
Opportunity is beckoning and inviting new businesses to jump on board promising growth as a reward for the brave. Adding up all the figures above, listening to the commentators and the confidence of investors, what are companies waiting for?

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