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A New Dawn for Offshore Wind

Last week I attended the RenewableUK Global Offshore Wind 2016 conference (#RUKGOW16) in Manchester. It had been two years since I last attended this event and the change in mood between the two delegations was staggering.

First stop was the main auditorium for the “Share Fair”; a platform for key supply chain players to disseminate their procurement opportunities. From my experience of past events, I was expecting to hear about upcoming plans, projects in the pipeline, theory and procedures. But the sector has moved on. The likes of Siemens, Statoil and MHI Vestas Offshore presented long lists of open procurement opportunities. Services that we required now, for projects that are happening now. This was looking promising.

The “Global Markets Update” which followed continued at a similar positive and somewhat urgent pace. Then entered the new Chief Executive of RenewableUK, Hugh McNeal, and the true scale of the market transformation was presented. The offshore wind industry is “now part of a new energy main stream”. The stats are impressive:

For the first time last year, we witnessed more renewable than non-renewable capacity deployed across the globe

Half of global investment in energy last year was in renewables

Almost 1 pound in every 5 being spent on infrastructure in Britain is in renewables, with offshore wind leading the way.

Britain’s offshore wind industry market is worth a record $23bn

Renewables delivered a quarter of Britain’s electricity in 2015 - more than coal and more than nuclear.

As McNeal continued, it became clear that this “is no longer a start-up industry” and the UK is leading the way.

Strong, positive messages resonated throughout the two day conference. The common theme being that the UK’s offshore wind industry has entered a new dawn. It is clear that this success has been built on international collaboration and to continue on this rapid positive trajectory, continued collaboration across European and global markets will be essential.

The revelation of last Friday’s EU referendum decision which followed two days after the event, will no doubt send shock waves across the industry. My hope now is that the tremendous progress that has been made by the offshore wind industry is enough to allow the sector to continue to grow and thrive during the potentially turbulent months ahead.

The transformation of the UK's offshore wind industry which has been achieved in the past decade is truly staggering. A transformation which has been achieved through strong UK leadership and close international collaboration. Long may it continue...

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