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Crown Estate claims 5,300 new jobs could be created with new offshore wind farms

22 Feb 2024 8 minute read
Photo by Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash

New research from The Crown Estate today claims that up to 5,300 new jobs and a £1.4 billion economic boost could be generated from the development of some of the largest wind farms in the world off the coast of south Wales.

The Celtic Sea Blueprint has determined the supply chain and infrastructure requirements for three new wind farms in the Celtic Sea, announced by The Crown Estate in December.

The Crown Estate commissioned research claims that up to 5,300 new jobs and up to £1.4 billion could be generated for the UK economy by galvanising the supply chain and infrastructure opportunities arising from the development of new floating wind farms off the coast of south Wales and the south west of England.

“Independent study”

The independent study, The Celtic Sea Blueprint, conducted by Lumen Energy & Environment, looked at the minimum requirements needed to deliver the first three projects outlined by The Crown Estate in December.

It also examined the gaps, such as ports deep enough for handling the giant turbines, vessels to service the sites, and export cables to transport electricity to land.

“Power for four million homes”

The researchers say that action is required now, locally and nationally, to capture the opportunities associated with this fast, growing innovative new technology.

The first three floating windfarms, which will be able to generate up to 4.5GW of electricity – enough to power more than four million homes, would be some of the largest in the world. And, as the first in the UK outside of Scotland, mark a new phase for offshore wind in England and Wales.

The researchers claim that Wales has the potential to be at the forefront of driving this development with opportunities from port infrastructure to significant SME support across the supply chain.

In particular, the research highlighted opportunities for, what they term, ‘the region’ from the assembly of the large floating platforms needed to house the turbines, building on the existing local high-skilled welding and concrete expertise and existing local suppliers.

The research highlights opportunities for local ports ‘across the region’ from the assembly, transport and storage of parts during the construction and life-cycle of the sites, while ‘the region’s strong shipping expertise’ could also be of benefit during the development stages.

More generally, the first three windfarms alone will need:

  • More than 260 turbines spread across the three sites, each some 300 metres tall, around the same height as The Shard, on a floating platform about the size of a football pitch
  • More than 1000 anchors to secure the floating turbines to the seabed, with at least 300km of mooring lines
  • Nearly 900km of cables – enough to stretch four times the length of Wales, to link up turbines and connect them to the electricity network

“Opportunity for the region”

Gus Jaspert, Managing Director of Marine at The Crown Estate said: “Floating wind is an incredibly exciting opportunity for the region and the nation. It will boost clean electricity generation by unlocking the deeper waters of the Celtic Sea not previously accessible by fixed turbines and providing greater access to wind blowing from the west.

“The benefits though are even more wide-ranging, opening up wider local and national opportunities for manufacturers and the supply chain, from cables to platform construction to port development, creating thousands of new jobs and skills.

“But there are also gaps in the market. If the UK is to make the most of the economic and environmental opportunities from the transition to renewable energy, we must be on the front foot, acting now to develop the supply chain capability, skills and infrastructure needed to establish not just these wind farms but future floating wind farms in the Celtic Sea and elsewhere.

“Using this research, we want to work with the industry, trade organisations, local communities and across governments to make sure we are harnessing all the available opportunities and supporting the UK in continuing to accelerate its world-leading position in offshore wind.”

“Multi-billion-pound opportunities”

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail, Co-Chair of the Floating Offshore Wind Taskforce said: “The Celtic Sea Blueprint shows that floating wind can deliver immense industrial growth in the south west of England, South Wales and throughout the UK, with multi-billion-pound opportunities to build up new supply chains and create thousands of jobs during the construction phase alone, especially in coastal communities.

“Some of the world’s biggest floating wind farms will be built in the Celtic Sea, with turbines twice as tall as Blackpool Tower, platforms the size of football pitches and hundreds of kilometres of hi-tech cables.

“We need to ensure that we’re making that massive kit here, by upgrading ports so that we have the capacity to manufacture and assemble these enormous structures. If we don’t seize this opportunity to capitalise on our global lead in floating wind, other countries will do so, as the international race to develop world-class supply chains for this innovative technology is accelerating fast.”

“Welsh national story”

Jess Hooper, Director for RenewableUK Cymru added: “Manufacturing is part of the Welsh national story.

“We have a proud industrial work heritage, a skilled manufacturing base and strong links with the universities and colleges which feed into this industry.

“Retaining, upskilling and transitioning our local workforce towards offshore wind is the single biggest opportunity on the horizon to provide high quality employment for decades to come.

“Only by developing our port capabilities in South Wales can we do this. Our ports are paramount in attracting the right anchor companies that will safeguard against bottlenecks in project delivery and develop our own local supply chain capabilities.

“Investment in the region now is critical to  delivering on that 4.5GW of offshore wind at the scale and pace required to meet our net zero targets.”

The Crown Estate intends to bring key parties together to create an action plan for developing supply chain and infrastructure capabilities ‘in the region’ and across the UK. This includes looking at funding and investment options to accelerate supply chain projects, including a pilot £10 million fund from The Crown Estate to support early-stage projects looking to capture some of the opportunities identified in the research.

Commitments

The Crown Estate intends to introduce a series of contractual commitments for developers to help drive positive social and environmental impacts for the region focused on jobs, skills and training, environmental benefits and working with local communities.

In November 2023, The Crown Estate welcomed the Government’s commitment in the Autumn Statement to modernise its investment powers. This includes allowing it to borrow for the first time and therefore invest more across its business to have an even greater impact, for example through supporting the continued sustainable acceleration of offshore wind for the benefit of the nation.

Opposition

The Crown Estate and the extraction of Wales’ energy are two thorny issues in Welsh public debate at present.

A major report from the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICW) recenly backed Plaid Cymru’s calls for the devolution of the Crown Estate.

In a report published in October 2023, the commission recommended that by 2030, “the Crown Estate’s functions in Wales should be completely devolved to a new body that has as its principal aim the reinvestment of all funds in Wales for the long-term benefits of the people of Wales in the form of a Sovereign Wealth Fund”.

The report also notes that, given that Wales is the poorest constituent country in Great Britain, the current system whereby wealth is transferred from Wales to England is “an illogical and bizarre outcome”.

The Crown Estate is an independent company which belongs to the monarch for the duration of their reign, though the revenue from its £16bn property portfolio flows directly to the Treasury which then transfers a portion to the Royal Family.

Liz Saville Roberts and King Charles III – Image: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Plaid Cyrmu has campaigned in recent years for the Crown Estate to be devolved. In 2021 the party’s Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts introduced a Bill to devolve the Crown Estate to Wales, in line with arrangements in Scotland since 2017.

In July 2023, Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP called for a “Crown Estate green wealth fund” to be funded by the profits of the Estate’s Welsh assets for the benefit of future generations.

The formal tender process for the floating wind farms starts at the end of the month.


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Ianto
Ianto
1 month ago

How far more exciting it would be if profits from our resources stayed in Wales.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago
Reply to  Ianto

Like the people oh wait a minute they move to England for work.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

5,300 jobs created ? where ? Now it would be possible if the supply chain was mostly set up around a number of various manufacturing companies in Wales and installation/ commissioning crews were also Welsh. Most likely only a very small insignificant number of workers would be sourced in Wales.

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