Over £43bn ($59bn) in UK gross added value and some 29,000 jobs could be created by mid-century though a joined-up floating wind power sector cluster in Britain that would spur a boom in manufacturing in the shipyards and supply chains along the coasts of the Celtic Sea, according to latest government-industry calculations.
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The new Celtic Sea Cluster, led by the Welsh government and the UK’s Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership and supported by Marine Energy Wales, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and Celtic Sea Power, sees the “right ingredients to accelerate the pace of development” of the sector in the region but the need for a “coordinated approach... to harness [existing] supply chain strengths”.
“We are primarily here to boost local supply chain and create jobs in the green economy, but we must first create the market,” said cluster chairman Stephen Wyatt, from ORE Catapult.
“By drawing together all of the major stakeholders under one roof, and our twinning with the Celtic Sea Alliance [launched in 2019], we believe we have all the right ingredients to accelerate the pace of development and make the Celtic Sea the easiest place in the UK to develop floating wind,”
"The cluster will work hard for industry to remove barriers to deployment, and maximise the supply chain opportunity, particularly for local companies, and ultimately achieve the UK content ambitions of the [UK’s] offshore wind sector deal.”
First minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said: “Wales has the industrial capability to provide the manufacturing engine room for Celtic Sea developers. The Cluster will enable more coherent conversations to understand requirements and accelerate delivery.”
CISLEP non-executive Director Steve Jermy said: “Cornwall is home to a strong offshore renewables supply chain, which has growing links with the broader supply chain capabilities in the South West UK.
“These in turn should match very well with the heavy engineering strengths in South Wales, and the Celtic Sea Cluster seeks to play a key role in growing this excellent regional capability to both meet the needs of the project developer and maximise the chances of job creation across the South West and Wales.”
The cluster has the mission of working to “tackle barriers to the pace of development, identify key enabling infrastructure, and provide support for the emerging supply chain... [as] a significant step forward in unlocking potentially 150GW of offshore wind in the UK by 2050”.
The UK has a target of 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, with at least 1GW coming from floating project – the latter capacity broadly seen as far short of the necessary build-out, given the government-advising Climate Change Committee forecasting some 100GW would have to be online by 2050 to meet the country's net zero.
The Celtic Sea is increasingly perceived to be key to this more ambitious goal, with several projects underway in the region – including the 96MW TotalEnergies-Simply Blue Erebus and 100MW Valorous arrays off Wales and the Shell-Simply Blue 1GW Emerald off the south coast of Ireland.
More recently, Sweden’s Hexicon announced a partnership with engineering giant Bechtel to develop a 30MW array on the former Wave Hub R&D site off the south east of the UK, and developers Cobra and Flotation Energy are planning the 100MW White Cross in neighbouring waters.
The Llŷr 1 and 2 projects, made up two 100MW technology test sites, are meanwhile being advanced Floventis Energy, a joint venture between SBM Offshore and Cierco.
UK seabed landlord the Crown Estate has also announced it has kicked off work on a new leasing round for early commercial-scale floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea that will focus “circa 300MW” arrays.