The UK government has unveiled a strategy to invest £66m to expand its offshore wind industry and boost the economy by £7bn by 2020.
The Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy includes a £20m investment from the Regional Growth Fund to improve UK’s offshore wind supply chain, and £46m of funding over five years to help bring new products to market.
As part of the plans, the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) will establish a new offshore wind investment organisation to attract inward investment and there will be expansion of the scope of the offshore wind manufacturing funding scheme to support port and coastal infrastructure development in England.
The government said it will also require developers of offshore wind farms above a certain size to produce a supply chain plan before they can apply for long-term contracts.
The Green Investment Bank is planning to invest a significant proportion of its £3.8bn capital in offshore wind, co-investing in projects with commercial parties.
UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the race is now on to lead the world in clean, green energy.
"As an island nation, and with our weather, the UK is ideally placed to make the most of offshore wind energy – you could say it was a technology designed for us," Clegg said.
"This strategy will help keep Britain as the world leader in one of the most important industries of the 21st century. If we make the most of offshore wind’s potential in the UK, it can provide a big proportion of the energy that lights our homes and powers our economy."
UK Secretary of State for Energy Edward Davey said the new strategy will support thousands of skilled green jobs and provide homes with clean energy.
"Offshore wind is already an important contributor to our energy mix, with the amount of electricity we generate from it increasing by 46% last year," Davey said.
RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery said the strategy identifies the opportunity that offshore wind offers to the UK.
"This document is a blueprint for green-collar job creation which, as long as its recommendations are fully implemented, will ensure that Britain reaps the once-in-a-lifetime benefits offered by our world-leading offshore wind sector," McCaffery said.
CBI business environment director Rhian Kelly said: "The UK has one of the most ambitious forward programmes for offshore wind in the world and this strategy highlights the need to strengthen domestic supply chains to capture as much value from this as possible."
Earlier in July 2013, the UK Government approved RWE Innogy’s plans to construct the 1.2GW Triton Knoll offshore wind farm in England, which has been proposed to be larger than the London Array.
Image: The UK currently has over 10GW of wind energy installed capacity. Photo: courtesy of the Confederation of British Industry.