Several offshore wind farm projects planned in the Southern North Sea open up a sea of opportunities for UK suppliers who can demonstrate their value proposition and long-term commitment to the industry, Bruce Valpy of BVG Associates said today during the SNS2016 conference held in Norwich.
Companies such as DONG, RWE, ScottishPower Renewables and Statkraft are all expected to install major offshore wind farms in the Southern North Sea in the next five years, with more to follow.
This should provide a major boost to local economies and especially local companies that make themselves ready to serve the offshore wind industry. The region already has a host of companies with experience of operating in the North Sea, albeit for oil and gas companies.
Oil and gas companies have expertise working in the hostile offshore environments that are the next frontiers for offshore wind. Many of these competencies should be transferrable to the offshore wind industry, with a little help.
Developers are also increasingly keen to maximise the local content of their developments to increase local support and comply with planning requirements.
“Offshore wind needs the skills of the offshore oil and gas supply chain, and oil and gas companies can generate much need new revenue from offshore renewables,” said Valpy.
He also pointed out that there are some significant differences between offshore wind and offshore oil and gas. In particular, the procurement, working and investment strategies can be very different between the sectors.
“Much of our current work with oil and gas companies is helping them understand the size of the opportunity in offshore wind and how best they can enter the supply chain,” said Valpy.
Such understanding, analysis and advice can help many UK companies start doing business much quicker than trying to go it alone.
Valpy also welcomed the shift in industry conversations from “how much subsidy can we get” to “how quickly can we get free of subsidies.”
“The offshore wind industry knows it has to reduce costs to get continued support,” said Valpy. “This means there are lots of opportunities for innovative companies to sell their ideas.”
To achieve subsidy-free levels of generation, innovation is vital, Valpy said. The offshore wind industry already has a strong track-record of cost reduction and is always keen to adopt new ideas that increase efficiency.