Offshore wind energy event offers local companies share of a £100 billion industry

Over two hundred local companies discovered how to take advantage of business opportunities worth in excess of £100 billion in the emerging offshore wind renewable energy sector.

That was the message from Invest Northern Ireland at today’s offshore wind energy supply chain event. Organised by Invest NI, in partnership with The Crown Estate, and with part funding from the European Regional Development Fund, local companies heard about plans to develop offshore wind farms around the UK’s coastline as part of The Crown Estate offshore leasing programme.

The Crown Estate awarded the wind farm contracts earlier this year and the successful developers are now seeking companies to feed into their supply chains. A high volume of associated supply chain work is expected to result from the installation of over 7000 wind turbines by 2020.

The supply chain events, which started in January, have taken place throughout the regions of the UK, providing a marketplace to help companies do business and become involved in offshore wind developments.  The potential for the industry is huge, with The Crown Estate’s latest leasing round aiming to deliver a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs by 2020.

Olive Hill, Director of Technology and Process Development at Invest NI, commented: “This offshore wind energy event was an excellent opportunity to showcase the strength of Northern Ireland’s research capability and skills base in the renewable energy sector. The event has highlighted the extensive experience and local expertise in key areas such as marine energy technology and composite materials. In addition, it has helped local companies make contact with potential new valuable customers.

Ms Hill continued; “It is of strategic importance that Invest NI supports the companies involved in this Offshore Wind Energy Supply Chain as it will benefit them in the future. With enhanced knowledge, capability and experience, these companies will be in a stronger position to bid for the additional $550bn of business opportunities that exist globally per annum, across the wider renewables sector.”  

Roger Bright, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate said: “Over 3,000 delegates have attended the offshore wind industry supply chain events held across the country since January. I am delighted that so many businesses have already grasped the challenge and opportunity that the offshore wind industry is offering. We want to capitalise on the UK’s position as the world leader in installed offshore wind capacity, and have invested in excess of £100 million in Round 3 of the leasing.

“Offshore wind is a developing industry, which is creating some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world with a potential market investment of over £100 billion. With this comes the prospect of tens of thousands of jobs and a significant boost to the UK economy.”

Speaking at the event, David Sterling, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Trade Investment said: “DETI is coordinating the delivery of a programme of actions across the range of renewable energy technologies to ensure we achieve our energy efficiency goals and gain benefits for the local economy.

“Today’s event demonstrates the key role Northern Ireland companies can play in the supply chain for the planned UK offshore wind farm developments. Local engagement is essential if Northern Ireland companies are to place themselves at the centre of this growing industry and secure research collaborations, job opportunities and inward investment in the future.”