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29 June 2010

Offshore wind industry to provide 45,000 new jobs

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But only if the government quickly clarifies its renewable energy policy

The UK could create at least 45,000 new jobs through the rapid expansion of its offshore wind energy industry, but only if the new coalition government acts quickly to clarify its renewable energy policy and remove barriers to investment for the fast-expanding sector.

That is the conclusion of a major new report commissioned by trade association RenewableUK, which comes on the same day as a series of announcements underlining burgeoning investor confidence in the sector.

Entitled Building an Industry, the new report sets out a series of different scenarios under which the UK offshore wind industry can deliver between 15 and 42GW of installed capacity by the end of the decade.

However, the report warns that the upper end of its projections and the resulting job creation opportunities will only be realised if the government takes action within the next 12 to 24 months to address technical and planning barriers, and stimulate investment in turbine manufacturing plants and other parts of the supply chain.

The report predicts that to release its "Healthy Industry" scenario up to £1bn of private investment will be required in at least five UK-based turbine manufacturing plants.

However, it warns that while GE, Siemens and Mitsubishi have all this year outlined plans to build new manufacturing facilities in the UK the necessary level of investment will only be realized if the government provides a greater degree of policy certainty for investors.

In particular, it argues that the coalition must act swiftly to clarify its proposals to reform the current Renewable Obligation (RO) subsidy mechanism and extend the existing feed-in tariff incentive scheme to cover larger projects. " The RO remains the preference of the industry," the report states, adding that "if we are to change to a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) this needs to be implemented quickly and effectively to avoid a stall in the market."


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