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Research into the North East Offshore Wind Supply Chain reveals jobs opportunity

In conversation with Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at the North East LEP

A study commissioned by the North East LEP, and delivered by Cambridge Econometrics and Element Energy, has reinforced a major employment opportunity in the offshore wind sector.  Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at the North East LEP talks about how the findings highlight an opportunity for the North East to take a lead role in delivering national clean growth ambitions and to create more and better jobs for our region.:

What was the aim of the study?

We already know that the North East is a major global hub for the offshore energy and subsea sectors, with world leading supply chain expertise for example in subsea engineering, design, and fabrication of components such as turbine foundations, pipelines and umbilicals. We also have world-class skills and innovation capabilities, and excellent infrastructure.

We wanted to delve deeper into that area, to understand the scale of the role the region can play in delivery of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, which was launched last year. The aim was also to set out a series of recommendations which will help inform how we further develop our regional cluster to best capitalise on the opportunities identified.

How was the study approached?

Engagement was at the core of this study, with contributions from key regional, national and international stakeholders in the sector and in the UK offshore wind project pipeline. With expert input the study assessed the existing strengths and capabilities of the North East sector, in the context of the existing UK and exports markets.

It then set out the national opportunity articulated as part of the sector deal, specifically in terms of employment and GVA growth based on the current and planned UK project pipeline. This was set out across all the major stages of wind farm development.

Using this information, we determined how much of this national job creation and GVA growth could be secured in the North East in the coming years, building on our existing capabilities. We explored several scenarios for growth in which different assumptions were tested in terms of the region’s future contribution in the UK domestic market, and international export markets.

What does the study tell us?

The study confirmed we should be hugely ambitious in this sector as a region, with a significant economic opportunity for the North East to create more and better jobs and build on its current position as a major global hub for offshore wind.

The study highlights that the total number of jobs created in and supported by the supply chain for offshore wind could reach 8,600 in the North East by 2025. This includes playing a significant national role in terms of the total numbers of jobs within direct sector supply chains, with growth being supported through the national offshore wind sector deal.

Even in a business as usual case, where the region does not increase any further market share, the direct supply chain could reach 3,500 jobs by 2025 representing up to £140m in GVA a growth of 150%.

However, with further strategic development, such as securing a greater share of the operations and maintenance market and specifically developing a wind turbine component supply chain locally, the number of jobs existing in the direct supply chain of the sector could reach 4,600 jobs and generate up to £180m in GVA.

Furthermore, an additional 3,000 – 4,000 jobs could be supported by the offshore wind sector through indirect supply chains and other economic impacts within the region.

Plus, an additional 2,000 – 3,000 jobs could be supported in the rest of the UK as a result of increased activity in the North East’s offshore wind sector

This clearly represents a huge opportunity for the region, demonstrating the central role the North East is already playing in delivering national growth in the sector, and how we can build on this even further.

What’s next?

To help us understand how to drive this level of ambition, the study also presented several strategic recommendations, including around skills and innovation programmes to future proof the sector, coordinating activity across partners, targeting an export offer to key markets, and supporting development of our infrastructure and supply chain.

The North East LEP will continue to work with Energi Coast, the North East’s offshore wind cluster, to work through the findings to help shape cluster development work with sector partners across the North East and Tees Valley.

Read an executive summary of the study. 

For more information on the findings of the study, please contact [email protected].