Sunday, May 22, 2022
BusinessOpinion: No excuse for not capitalising on offshore floating wind

Opinion: No excuse for not capitalising on offshore floating wind

Neil Gordon was appointed chief executive of the Global Underwater Hub in 2011. During his stewardship, the organisation has taken a role in discussion with political and industry stakeholders about the future of the industry. During his early career, he worked offshore as a commercial diver ad helped manage and develop businesses. He spent four years managing the national hyperbaric centre working and developing with the subsea sector across the globe.

Maybe yesterday should be renamed Green Monday rather than Blue Monday. It was certainly a day to celebrate the ambition for renewable energy in Scotland as the ScotWind licencing round was announced with provision for significantly more GW than anticipated.

Scotland’s net-zero goals and those companies whose bids have been successful are not the only winners. The supply chain is also a crucial beneficiary as these developments are brought forward.

The subsea supply chain in particular has a significant prize to go after in terms of the offshore floating wind segment.

Niel Gordon
SUBSEA UK NEW CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE NEIL GORDON

Much has been said about the failure of the UK to secure local content in fixed wind but there will be no excuse for not capitalising on offshore floating wind where, as a nation, we have one of the world’s most highly recognised underwater sectors which has the expertise, experience, technology and skills to develop, install, operate and maintain offshore floating wind projects.

Recognising that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire is home to the largest concentration of subsea businesses, the Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) will also be home to a brand new Floating Offshore Wind Technology Centre, harnessing first mover advantage through subsea engineering credentials that will accelerate the development of the technology required to maximise the significant floating offshore wind opportunity.

Subsea technologies in areas such as floating foundation systems, mooring and anchoring systems as well as dynamic power cables are recognised areas of expertise that will be required but there will other technologies and high-value manufacturing aspects that will come to light in the coming months and years as these major developments take shape.

It will be key for the UK and Scottish governments to know how to support the industrial investment needed to ensure the UK supply chain meets the ambition and also hold to account the pledges made by the bidders.

The public announcements from many of the consortia involved already indicate a bonanza for the supply chain. Hopes are high that the lease process will see developers make good on these pledges through early engagement with the supply chain. Indeed, bidders will have to prepare Supply Chain Development Statements which will outline where their expenditure will be spent.

But the extent to which the supply chain could be used will also depend on its ability to adapt to provide services to the floating wind market.

At the Global Underwater Hub (GUH), we are already working with government agencies to identify the key areas of expertise and technology required to support UK companies to invest and capitalise on the opportunities in offshore floating wind.

As a strategic, intelligence-led organisation, the GUH will be working with agencies and developers to provide the subsea industry with the visibility and market intelligence on these projects so that they can maximise the opportunities. Equally, we will be exploring new relationships and ones which already exist between the bidders and the subsea supply chain and how these can be developed or cemented.

The GUH will seek to identify and understand the areas of expertise and technology where subsea companies can add value and become competitive not only in the UK but overseas as floating wind matures in UK and Scottish waters with a view to becoming a global leader.

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