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11 October 2010

Offshore Wind: Can the UK Stay Ahead?

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With the opening of the 300 MW Thanet wind farm in September, 2010, the UK's offshore wind capacity overtook the rest of the world's. But a recent report suggests Britain will have to work to stay in front
Globally, offshore farms make up just 1.25% of the wind power sector. In the UK, though, government support and attractive sites have catalysed swift development. In the first quarter of 2010, turbine manufacturers Siemens, Clipper, Mitsubishi and GE all committed to establishing a UK presence.

Yet maintaining this momentum will take both a stable, long-term market outlook, and confidence in government policy, finds a recent report prepared for Renewable UK (previously the British Wind Energy Association) by Douglas Westwood Ltd. By examining different development scenarios for the period from 2015 to 2030, it reveals widely differing implications for the wind technology supply chain, as well as the policy drivers that will be needed.

Sites all round the UK have already been identified and are being leased. Possible sites form a number of 'rounds': Round 1 is underway, while Round 2, 2.5, 3 and projects in Scottish Territorial Waters have been identified.
The report uses three different scenarios for the development of these sites, labelled 'Aggregated Developer Appetite', 'A Healthy Industry' and 'Low Added Value'.

The aggregated developer appetite shows rapid development from the outset, with installations peaking at 8 GW in 2018 and then plunging. It would require early decisions on Round 4 and would result in a very strong UK market if prompt decisions were taken on new UK manufacturing facilities.

The healthy industry scenario allows for a steadier installation rate of around 4 GW a year, while the low-added value scenario assumes additional delays and project attrition, with installations fluctuating between 2 and 3 GW a year, and reduced opportunity for the supply chain. The three scenarios would result in 42.7 GW, 23.2 GW and 14.1 GW of capacity by the end of 2020, respectively.

The report details the implications for the industry of the different scenarios. Clearly, the assumptions made and the scenario chosen have a big impact on the implications for the supply chain.

(Renewable Energy World)

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