A £100m fund has been established to help UK firms capitalise on the boom in offshore wind.
With the UK so well suited to exploiting wind power, turbines have been erected in more than 30 locations from Brighton to the Moray Firth. But trade unions say the boom has not generated enough jobs for UK workers.
The Offshore Wind Industry Council says its initiative will help hundreds of firms “maximise opportunities” in the offshore wind supply chain. “The Offshore Wind Growth Partnership will provide practical help for UK companies so they can compete successfully for contracts in this thriving global market,” said Benj Sykes, chairman of the OWIC and UK country manager for the Danish firm Orsted.
The OWIC, which is a joint government and industry body, will invest the privately-raised funds over 10 years to support companies in the supply chain. Firms that manufacture parts, lay cables and maintain wind farms will receive support ranging from “expert advice on manufacturing and commercialisation” to funding for innovation. They will also be given support to export their products and services.
By 2030 the offshore wind power market is expected to be worth £30bn per year, with the UK expected to be generating a third of its electricity from wind. The OWIC hopes to raise the participation of UK businesses in the industry from 48% currently to 60%, under a sector deal agreed between industry and government.
The new fund will bring “investment, thousands of high-quality jobs and huge economic opportunities for communities across the UK”, energy and clean growth minister Chris Skidmore said.
Last month GMB general secretary, Tim Roache said Britain’s politicians needed “to sharpen their elbows in the fight for jobs” when it came to opportunities in the growing renewables sector.
The union says up to 1,000 jobs could be created at two mothballed yards in Fife if EDF chose local firms to manufacture parts for a huge wind farm project there, rather than as is expected the work being done in Indonesia, Belgium and Spain.