Opportunities Provided by Government's Commitment to Wind Energy
Government's commitment to clean wind energy, and the opportunities it provides North East England By Guy Currey, Director, Invest North East England
In October this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the first stage of the government's ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, including ambitious targets for the UK's offshore wind sector.
Already home to the largest offshore wind market in the world, the government has announced that an additional £160m will be pumped into the industry to upgrade ports and infrastructure, including here in North East England. It's expected the new investment from government will initially create around 2,000 construction jobs and support a further 60,000 across the offshore wind sector by 2030.
The government's commitment to clean wind energy is welcome news for the North East, where the offshore wind sector continues to thrive despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Offshore wind presents a transformational opportunity for the North East's economy, potentially supporting the creation of nearly 9,000 jobs by 2025.
In May of this year, Equinor and SSE Renewables - the two companies behind the world's biggest offshore wind farm, Dogger Bank in the North Sea - announced a new multi-million pound Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Base will be built at the Port of Tyne, creating more than 200 jobs.
The North of Tyne Combined Authority also just announced a new £3.5m Technology, Innovation and Green Growth for Offshore Renewables (TIGGOR) programme to support technology innovation in the offshore wind and subsea sectors. This follows the news that leading Irish virtual and augmented reality company, VRAI - which delivers virtual reality simulation training for companies working in high hazard environments - has opened its first British office in Gateshead and is exploring how it can use its technology to support the offshore wind industry.
It's an exciting time for the sector, and its continued success is good news for our regional economy too. The offshore wind market is benefitting from an increase in inward investment opportunities, driven by the government's commitment for the UK to be at the forefront of the green industrial revolution. Here at Invest North East England, we're supporting some significant enquires that, if successful, could further bolster the sector.
This week (Thursday 05 November) sees the return of Offshore Wind North East, an annual event organised by NOF celebrating North East England's offshore wind industry and the opportunities in the region for companies based all over the globe. The themes for this year's event include current offshore wind projects, the floating offshore wind market, and innovation. The event is being held digitally and features speakers from local and national government, as well as contributions from local, national and international companies working in the sector. You can find more information about the event here.
Its focus on innovation will be of particular interest, as this is seen as one of the ways the sector can accelerate the UK's path to net zero by 2050. Technology has a huge role to play and we're already seeing digital and tech companies in the North East responding to the opportunity by developing new innovations that will increase industrial digitalisation within the industry.
One of the major strengths of the offshore wind sector in the North East is that we have the skills, technology, sites and experienced supply chain to support all areas of the industry. Couple that with our thriving cluster of digital and tech businesses and we have all the ingredients to grow the most innovative and advanced offshore wind market in the world.