Offshore wind jobs are poised to triple by 2030 to support steep capacity growth, providing a “hiring haven” for energy jobs lost in a fading oil & gas industry, said analysts at Rystad Energy.

Wind at sea will employ 868,000 full-time globally by the end of the decade, up from just under 300,000 by the end of last year, according to Rystad forecasts, as the industry expands to 250GW. The sector had 32.5GW installed by the start of 2021, according to industry body World Forum Offshore Wind.

Rystad – which expects a surge to almost 600,000 offshore wind jobs as soon as mid-decade – said turbine manufacturing will continue as the single biggest driver of employment, accounting for 54% of total employment in 2030 as OEMs such as Vestas, Siemens Gamesa and GE Renewable Energy build more, and larger, factories to support expansion.

Rystad’s forecast was released as it emerged that turbine-maker Siemens Gamesa is laying plans that could see it double the scale of its flagship plant in Hull, northeast England, while the same manufacturer earlier in February started recruiting for a factory billed as “the largest industrial renewables facility” in French history.

Construction and development will dominate the sector’s employment profile during its build-out phase, but operations and maintenance (O&M) will grow from a 7% share of total jobs now to 12% in 2025, said Rystad.

US prospects

While Europe will remain the largest single offshore wind employment hub – 350,000 by 2030 – Asia outside China and the Americas are both tipped for steep growth too.

Rystad is particularly bullish over offshore wind’s prospects in the US under the presidency of Joe Biden, predicting almost 15GW in the water by 2030.

“As we move towards 2030, demand for jobs is expected to be lifted further by other countries in the region, especially Brazil, which has several large projects expected to be commissioned around the turn of the decade,” added Rystad.

However, it cautioned that capacity and employment growth won’t always occur in parallel, with some markets seeing equipment shipped in from manufacturing hubs located elsewhere.

Offshore wind will provide a “new hiring haven” for energy jobs amid a decline in oil & gas sector employment that “will never return to the glories of just a few years ago”, said Rystad.

Fossil energy workers will find a refuge in areas such as project development, offshore construction and O&M, where their skills often overlap, it predicted.