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Almost 70,000 people will work in UK’s offshore wind sector by 2026

The number of people working in the rapidly expanding offshore wind industry in the UK is projected to increase to 69,848 by 2026, with the private sector expected to invest GBP 60.8 billion (approx. EUR 70.5 billion) in developing, constructing and operating offshore wind farms over the next five years.

There are 26,000 people currently working in the UK’s offshore wind industry and the number is anticipated to significantly increase as the country raised its 2030 offshore wind target last year as part of the net-zero plans for 2050.

Of the 69,848 jobs by 2026, 40,700 will be direct (nearly 60 per cent) and 29,148 will be indirect through companies supplying other industries as well as offshore wind, according to a report published by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) on 25 March.

Currently, over 80 per cent of offshore wind jobs are located outside London and the south east, with Scotland having the highest proportion (30 per cent). Yorkshire and The Humber account for 15 per cent, and the north east of England and the east of England each account for 10 per cent. Most of the new jobs are expected to be created in parts of the country which urgently need levelling up, including the north east of England, Yorkshire and The Humber, East Anglia and Scotland.

“As the windiest country in Europe, this research shows that 30% of the UK’s offshore wind workforce is currently based here in Scotland, with this set to increase to over 20,000 jobs in the next few years and grow even more as offshore wind plays an ever more central role in our net-zero economy”, said Ben Miller, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables.

When it comes to investments by offshore wind farm owners and developers, the report expects the average annual investment to be GBP 10.1 billion (approx. EUR 11.7 billion) between 2021 and 2026. In 2026 alone, offshore wind investment will reach a peak of GBP 10.6 billion (approx. EUR 12.3 billion).

According to OWIC, the research is by far the most comprehensive ever conducted in the UK and, for the first time, direct and indirect jobs as well as self-employed people (who make up 14 per cent of the total workforce) were included.

In a survey carried out for the report, offshore wind farm developers and operators accounted for 29 per cent of the responses and 27 per cent were from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The highest percentage of responses, 39 per cent, came from supply chain companies, reflecting the importance of the UK offshore wind supply chain in job creation.

The Offshore Wind Skills Intelligence Report was commissioned by OWIC’s Investment In Talent Group, which was set up as part of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal agreed with Government in 2019. The work has been done by RenewableUK, the National Skils Acaemy for Rail and independent data analysts Opergy Ltd.