THE UK government is expected to announce within months whether it has been successful in luring large-scale wind turbine manufacturing to Britain.
Business Secretary Vince Cable led the talks with some of the world’s biggest turbine specialists about opening factories in the UK. Speaking yesterday in Glasgow, Cable said the results of those discussions would emerge in “months rather than years”.
“Scotland is very much in the market for that, as is the northeast of England and Humberside,” Cable added. “Those are the main three areas.”
His comments came at the official launch of Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, one of seven elite technology centres currently up and running to support development in specific industrial sectors.
Headed by chief executive Andrew Jamieson, ORE Catapult employs 40 people but is set to grow to 100 within a year. One of its main aims is to bring down the cost of offshore wind and tidal power, which at current prices is about three times more expensive than gas or coal-fired energy.
ORE Catapult has published a report claiming that the offshore wind industry could generate £6.7 billion a year in added value to the economy by 2020. By that time, the industry could support as many as 150,000 jobs.
The research – based on data from BVG Associates and analysis from the Fraser of Allander Institute – considers growth potential under two scenarios. The first is a “gradual” path similar to current market conditions, the second an “accelerated” path spurred on by efforts to reduce costs and boost innovation.
A gradual rise to 8GW of installed wind power by 2020 would result in £2.3bn of gross value add (GVA) to the economy, supporting 50,000 jobs.
The accelerated growth path assumes 15GW of installed power, driving GVA to £6.7bn. This would support 150,000 jobs.
“This report clearly demonstrates the significant potential economic value of offshore renewables and why it is worth the investment now,” Jamieson said.