The British government has earmarked £160m ($220m) to spur construction of offshore wind port facilities around the UK, as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s so-called ‘Ten Point Plan’ to deliver 1GW of energy to the grid by 2030 from floating arrays.
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The funding, to be bid on by developers and manufacturers to “kickstart” building and renovating coastal fabrication infrastructure “as a stepping stone to substantial further growth in the UK of [deepwater wind power] technology”.
“Offshore wind is a UK success story in forging our green industrial revolution. Tapping into this emerging sector will boost our clean electricity generation even further, creating jobs and green innovation across the whole of the UK,” said Johnson, speaking ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which opened today (Sunday).
The government expects the funding to be “boosted” by private sector investment in both development of port infrastructure for serial production of deepwater wind technology as well as offshore installation operations.
UK business & energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This investment will help to attract further private sector backing to boost our industrial heartlands. It will create and support thousands of good quality jobs ensuring they remain at the forefront of the next generation of clean energy as we build back greener.
“Floating wind is key to unlocking the spectacular wind energy resource we enjoy in the UK, particularly in the deep waters around the coasts of Scotland and Wales. This new investment will put us in a leading position to capture the full economic benefit of this fast growing industry.”
The government highlighted floating wind providing Scotland and Wales with the chance to “making the most of the deep waters off [their] coasts… and huge opportunities for [their] coastal communities” via new economic cluster that “build on [their] strong industrial heritage”.
The UK is home to the two largest floating wind farms on the planet, the 30MW Hywind Scotland – the world’s first commercial-scale array – and the current titleholder, the 50MW Kincardine, both off Scotland, as well as the 100MW Pentland, recently cleared by its owner, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, for development in the waters off the Scottish Highlands.
Investment commitments totalling over £900m have be cued-up for UK factories linked with the country’s burgeoning offshore wind sector so far this year – the largest influx of capital since the industry’s beginning over two decades ago, research from industry body RenewableUK has found earlier this year.
Industry leaders speaking a recent sector conference called on the UK government to raise its 2030 floating wind target and set a new goal for up to 20GW by 2040, so as to secure an estimated £45bn that could be added by mid-century to Britain’s industrial ecosystem by the sector, creating more than 29,000 jobs in the process – if the UK government stumps up some £2bn to charge-up the sector’s early stage development.