LONDON — The U.K., the world’s largest offshore-wind market, pledged funds to increase jobs in the industry sevenfold in a bid to spur economic recovery.
The government will commit 66 million pounds ($100 million) to expand the offshore-wind supply chain and finance research to curb costs, according to a strategy by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Energy Secretary Ed Davey. The expected industry growth may add 7 billion pounds a year to the economy by 2020.
Britain has more offshore wind-power capacity than the rest of the world put together and is trying to ease reliance on equipment imports by expanding its domestic supply chain. The industry could employ 30,000 people in 2020, up from 4,000, the Department for Business said in an e-mailed statement.
“If we make the most of offshore wind’s potential in the U.K., it can provide a big proportion of the energy that lights our homes and powers our economy,” Clegg said. “This strategy will help keep Britain as the world leader in one of the most important industries of the 21st century.”
Clegg and Davey announced the strategy today as they opened the 270-megawatt Lincs wind farm off eastern England. The project is led by Centrica Plc along with Denmark’s Dong Energy A/S and a unit of Germany’s Siemens AG.
As part of the strategy, ministers will set up an Offshore Wind Investment Organization to attract investment. They’ll require developers of offshore wind farms above a certain size to submit a supply-chain plan before applying for guaranteed electricity payments under contracts set up by the government.
“This document is a blueprint for green-collar job creation,” Maria McCaffery, chief executive officer of the RenewableUK lobby group, said in a statement.
The U.K. had almost 3,000 megawatts of wind turbines installed at sea at the end of 2012, compared with a global total of 5,410 megawatts, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. The European Wind Energy Association said in July that project financing had slowed because of regulatory uncertainty.
While the U.K. has no factories for offshore wind turbines, manufacturers including Siemens, which has the most turbines at sea, Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA and Samsung Heavy Industries Co. plan to build plants in Britain.
South Korea’s Doosan Power Systems Ltd. last year canceled a 170 million-pound plan to build offshore turbines in Scotland, while Vestas Wind Systems A/S shelved a proposed offshore turbine factory in southeast England, citing a lack of clarity in the government’s subsidy plans.
Copyright 2013 Bloomberg
Lead image: Offshore wind farm via Shutterstock