Photo: Illustration; Photo source: Energi Coast/RecognitionPR

North East England’s offshore wind supply chain holds 4,500 new jobs

In the next five years, the offshore wind supply chain could create 4,500 new jobs in the North East England, with the turnover of the UK region’s supply chain companies to more than double in their offshore wind activities over the same period.

This is according to the Supply Chain Mapping 2020 research project, managed by NOF, which worked with a dedicated task group, including Energi Coast’s Chairman James Ritchie and representatives from Equinor, RWE and SSE Renewables, GE Renewable Energy and ORE Catapult.

“The Supply Chain Mapping exercise really lays out the size and scale of the offshore wind sector in North East England and its vital role it can play in the UK economy”, said Energi Coast’s James Ritchie.

The 228 North East England companies that responded to the survey expect to create an additional 4,500 jobs in offshore wind in the next five years, with a target of that figure including 1,200 women, 1,000 graduates, 600 apprentices and 550 ex-forces personnel. During this period, their turnover in offshore wind activities is also set to more than double to GBP 2.2 billion.

Offshore wind is a priority for 88 per cent of the surveyed companies and 63 per cent suggested that the offshore wind sector is more important than their traditional sectors such as oil & gas and nuclear. Currently, 75 per cent of the region’s companies are already active in offshore wind, while the remainder would benefit from additional diversification support, according to a press release from Energi Coast.

The Supply Chain Mapping project also found that almost half of the companies stand ready to be able to deliver on contracts valued at GBP 1 million and above as they invested in their capabilities and have an established track record in the sector.

Exports accounts for 20 per cent of the total turnover for two thirds of North East England supply chain companies. For 7 per cent of them, offshore wind exports account for between 60 and 100 per cent of the total turnover.

Half of the region’s offshore wind supply chain companies invested up to 20 per cent of their total turnover in innovation, more specifically in research and development in areas including digitalisation, robotics, automation, manufacturing and fabrication techniques, and productivity improvements.

To achieve the financial and employment increases targeted by North East England’s supply chain, companies believe that greater support from the Government is required, particularly in the area of UK and local content.

Respondents highlighted that the local supply chain is missing out on business opportunities from UK projects and the Government is not doing enough to support the supply chain. The UK content should be mandated, according to the companies.

“We estimate that there are around 400 companies operating in North East England’s offshore wind cluster and with the information provided by just over half of these businesses we are able to send a clear message to government and the decision makers in the offshore wind sector that our region is a go-to destination for a wide range of products and services”, James Ritchie said.

“However, the planned growth and level of new employment will only happen if the Government and developers commit to utilising UK and local content in projects in British waters. The region has a broad depth of skills, expertise and industry specific experience that is well placed to make a valuable contribution to the sector if companies are given the opportunities to be part of current and future projects”.