Offshore wind’s coming of age

How can the next Government unlock over £20bn in investments in the UK offshore wind industry? By matching potential investment with ambition. 

By Duncan Clark, Head of Ørsted UK & Ireland

Just a few months ago, the Government started the current ‘Allocation Round 6’ that will secure contracts for developers to construct and operate the next fleet of offshore wind farms in UK waters. After an Allocation Round 5 which failed to deliver any new offshore wind capacity, the Government’s proposals for Allocation Round 6 were a step in the right direction.

Offshore wind blades
This July, the newly elected Government will have to decide if the initial proposals were ambitious enough, or if it wants to be even bolder and go further to secure even more investment. 

On offer is a huge prize. Developers and the supply chain are ready to invest over £20bn in the UK and its supply chain: the new Government must match this potential investment with ambition. 

The global offshore wind industry is pivoting.  Having grown from a disruptive niche industry, it is now well on the way to being the backbone of the UK’s electricity system and is the economic preference for new large-scale electricity generation, not just in the UK but in many countries around the world. 

It generates electricity that is affordable, that is not reliant on gas imports and that is also low-carbon. In the UK, and globally, Governments have targets to hugely increase the amount of offshore wind we install each year.  And to meet this new demand, the global supply chain is going to have to rapidly expand to more than three times its current size.  

This matters for the UK.  

It matters because the size of the supply chain is about to triple, and it is important that the UK acts to attract the investment in new supply chain facilities that will give it the maximum economic advantage from offshore wind projects both here in the UK and around the world.  

It matters because in the coming years there will be more and more competition from around the world to attract capital to invest in essential energy infrastructure that will power our homes and our industry and businesses. 

And it’s for these reasons that the new Government should choose to be more ambitious when it decides in July how much capacity it wants to secure. 

There are developers saying they want to commit to investing over £20bn in the UK right now, this year.  This is investment that will create tens of thousands of jobs.  There are also many UK companies waiting to support these and future projects.  

These are companies who missed out on orders when the UK ran a failed ‘Allocation Round’ last year and for many of them whether or not they continue to succeed in the UK is dependent on this Allocation Round.  

It will also send an incredibly strong signal to developers and supply chain companies around the world that the UK continues to be at the forefront of offshore wind in Europe.  
Image of Duncan Clark

Duncan Clark, Head of Ørsted UK & Ireland

Duncan Clark heads up Ørsted in the UK and Ireland, the company’s largest regional portfolio of offshore wind farms in operation and development, as well as onshore renewables, energy storage, and developing power-to-X solutions. 

Since joining Ørsted in 2012, Duncan managed programmes to deliver offshore wind developments including the construction of Westermost Rough and Hornsea One, taking up his current role in 2019.  Prior to joining Ørsted, he spent 18 years in the UK energy, primarily renewables and energy storage, holding senior roles at RWE and The Crown Estate.


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