The Humber’s huge growth potential in offshore wind, and the journey to becoming the UK’s leading hub, has been spelled out in glossy detail.
A 60-page prospectus has been published by the emerging Humber Offshore Wind Cluster, detailing development and lining up the Energy Estuary to play its part in the accelerated deployment demanded by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
It was revealed at an online launch hosted by Orsted’s Emma Toulson, with the world-leading developer as cluster sponsor. It is backed by more than a dozen key public and private organisations at the heart of the region.
Putting the prospectus in context of the most recent government announcement, Miss Toulson – a key architect of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal – said: “Only a few weeks ago our Prime Minister was again confirming and showing real commitment to the offshore wind industry, stating that we will be looking at 40GW of offshore wind by 2030.
“Today we have about 10GW of offshore wind deployed and going with that we have about 11,000 people who work in this industry. In the UK and that is set to increase to 27,000 people and as this industry has borne its track record and developed that experience, capability and capacity in the UK, as the global market opens up, we can see we are looking to have much higher export potential in the future.
“Today around half a billion pounds is exported in this sector and the idea is that it would increase five fold by 2030. That is a huge expansion of offshore wind in the UK and globally. That’s by 2030. By 2050 – and we know we are all working towards a legally binding target of Net Zero – the Committee on Climate Change talks about needing at least 75GW of offshore wind deployed to meet that ambition.
“The message is there is a lot more growth coming in this sector. We have looked at our cluster as it is today, the brilliant successes that have been achieved, and as the Humber we have come together to figure out our pathway forward, about how we grow and develop this opportunity to maximise the benefit presented to the region.
“The Humber is recognised as an established cluster, we have been working around offshore wind for the last 10 years and it has grown up really well in the area.
“If we want to really work together and make the best of this future growth we really do need to collaborate within the place and around key aspects like supply chain, employment and skills, innovation and infrastructure. I’m really pleased we have managed to come together around these aspects.”
Well over a decade in, with Grimsby’s role in initial construction support and the first offshore operations and maintenance coming in 2007 – there is now a clear pipeline to 10GW capacity in the near North Sea.
North East Lincolnshire Council’s assistant director of regeneration, Damian Jaines-White described the document as incredibly useful when it comes for lobbying, for an authority with an already part-open door to government through the first ever Town Deal – brokered on the back of a key role in a green future.
He said: “This shows the ambition of the sector and is very, very powerful in terms of driving the ambition forward.
“There is a platform there to help us realise this global and national opportunity for the wider Humber, the Energy Estuary.
“It is seeing the opportunities realised for our current workforce, and generational growth, generational jobs – not just now but in the future.”
A new arrival is the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence, moving into Grimsby’s Port Office during lockdown.
Ben George, general manager for ORE Catapult in the Humber, said it was vital to keep looking ahead. “The UK is the global leader, but that leadership is ours to lose if we rest on our laurels, that’s why we have to focus on always innovating, always improving.
“This helps us in the region really focus on what we are good at, and what we need to work on. It helps the region more broadly, those that are not already involved in the sector, understand the opportunities that offshore wind brings – not just to the region, but to the UK and the globe as far as decarbonisation is concerned. It also extends a more joined up, collaboration offer to other regions.”
At the fore of bringing the many strands together, from industry, academia and economic development is Aura Innovation Centre.
Louise Smith, director of the University of Hull-led collaboration catalyst, said: “We are delighted to be part of this. This prospectus is a first step which showcases what we have done already and this is many years of work – for those who have been in it from the very beginning it is a long time, but it is a witness, a culmination of everything we have done.
“Now we have a plan to go forward and I think it is an encouragement to continue to build towards clean growth and to transform the region so everyone benefits and has a sustainable future.”
Download the prospectus here: The Humber Offshore Wind Cluster Prospectus