The report, Green Jobs: Prospects for creating jobs from offshore wind in the UK, also says that without greater Government support, the opportunity to create up to 70,000 long-term jobs in parts of the country where they are needed, and its associated export potential, will be lost.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (Ippr) says that despite having the greatest offshore wind potential of any country in the world, the UK is poorly placed to benefit. Despite ambitious plans to expand offshore wind farms over the next decade, only 700 people are currently employed in the sector and there is only one UK-based factory that manufactures parts for wind turbines.
Ippr says the sector needs to be given greater confidence that the ambitions for developing the UK’s offshore wind capacity will be delivered.
Ippr also recommends that the UK Government learns the lesson of industrial activism from countries such as Denmark, Spain and Germany which have all been successful in developing a local onshore wind industry, the report argues for an ‘offshore wind investment programme’ to achieve this.
The report argues that as well as maximising the number of jobs available, the Government also need to think more strategically about ensuring that the workforce has the right skills to take advantage of those job opportunities by assessing and addressing the shortage of engineering and manufacturing skills in the UK.
The report in brief - action plan for the UK
- Monitor the impact of banding the Renewables Obligation to ensure that the levels of bands have been set correctly and are delivering sufficient renewable capacity;
- Major updates are required by the National Grid to the grid infrastructure to increase capacity and accommodate large amounts of new offshore wind;
- Improvements in the planning system, e.g. the process for establishing an Infrastructure Planning Commission, is underway which is hoped will help speed up the consent process for offshore wind farms. This needs to be kept under review;
- Improvements in the supply chain – the government should consider targeting support measures at companies that could help overcome bottlenecks in the supply chain. This includes foundation, offshore substation, cable, installation vessel and turbine manufacturers;
- A level playing field between tax breaks for offshore wind workers and those other competing sectors, such as oil and gas.
The report also argues for an ‘offshore wind investment programme’ for the UK, to be run by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and administered through Regional Development Agencies (RDA) and UK Trade and Investment. The programme would consist of the following elements:
- Financial and tax incentives drawing together disparate existing grant programmes and R&D support into clearly defined and focused packages;
- Facilities and infrastructure - including identifying a site for a nearshore test facility and using public and private investment to upgrade port facilities;
- Short term guarantees – government to underwrite borrowing for this sector and to push publicly-owned banks to lend to this sector as has happened in Ireland;
- Consider whether local content requirements could be applied in the UK to encourage wind farm developers to source turbines and other parts of the manufactured supply-chain from UK-based manufacturers;
- Develop a strategic plan to attract and train a new workforce to ensure that UK workers have the right skills to take advantage of new job opportunities.