UK offshore wind needs to see such key measures as “an acceleration in the consenting process and modernisation of the grid” in order to help achieve a green economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic, industry leaders have told the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

“The offshore wind industry is investing £50bn ($62.96bn) in the UK economy over the course of this decade so that we can hit the government’s target of 40GW by 2030,” said Benj Sykes, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council and Orsted’s head of market development, consenting and external affairs.

Sykes told the committee that offshore wind technology is playing a major role in decarbonisation, thanks partly to the offshore wind ‘sector deal’ agreed by government and the industry which provides confidence and certainty for investors.

Highlighting the benefits for consumers, Sykes added: “Offshore wind has smashed its cost reduction targets and is now one of the cheapest ways to generate new power. We can drive down operations and maintenance costs even more by using robotics and sharing data more widely.

“We’re continuing to innovate: the UK is the world leader in floating wind which is developing fast and allows us to build in much deeper waters further offshore. Renewable hydrogen, generated using electricity from offshore wind farms, will also play an important role in our energy system.

The chief executive of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult Andrew Jamieson told the committee that “at a time when both regenerating the UK economy and delivering on decarbonisation commitments are more critical than ever, we believe greater innovation can transform the UK’s offshore wind supply chain, create jobs and economic growth and build a long-term, world-leading powerhouse industry”.

However, Jamieson said to achieve these aims “we need to see such key measures as an acceleration in the consenting process and modernisation of the grid.

“Quadrupling our current offshore wind capacity over the course of this decade will provide a tremendous boost to the UK’s economic productivity, in terms of manufacturing and servicing our projects and exporting our expertise around the world.”

The call for offshore wind to drive a green recovery comes amid growing unease over the viability of reaching Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s election pledge to increase offshore wind from about 10GW now to 40GW by 2030.

Concerns are mounting following the government’s rejection of Vattenfall’s proposed 340MW Thanet Extension wind farm off southeast England, and a string of major offshore project approval delays.

Recharge also revealed last month that the government is resisting calls to hold Contracts for Difference auctions annually instead of every two years, despite industry claims that the change is vital to meeting Britain’s huge offshore wind goals.