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What’s happening in offshore wind?

Matthew Bowles our consultant managing the role
Published on 8 November 2019

Offshore wind has been a buzz word within the renewable energy industry for decades, with the very first offshore wind farm installed in Denmark all the way back in 1991. However, the road to global acceptance and adoption of wind energy hasn’t always been smooth.  Wind energy has been seen as expensive compared to other power sources, and until 2001 the market was extremely small, with restrictions around where farms could be constructed and high costs of maintenance and repairs. By 2007, wind overtook fuel oil as the fifth-largest form of power generation capacity, with the EU adopting a binding target for 20% renewables in energy supply by 2020. 

In 2012, the world’s then-largest offshore wind farm opened off the English coast of Cumbria. The next year, wind overtook nuclear to become the fourth-largest form of power generation capacity and in 2015 plans for the world’s first subsidy-free offshore wind farms were announced. We’ve come a long way since the small and costly early days of wind energy, but where are we now?

The current market

There were 409 new offshore wind turbines connected across Europe in 2018, bringing the total installed offshore wind capacity to 18,499 MW. The UK and Germany accounted for the vast majority of these installations and continue to lead the way in offshore wind, contributing to the rapid maturation of the industry in recent years. So impressive is the rise of the industry that there are some predictions it could be worth US$1 trillion by 2040, despite the fact that electricity generated from offshore wind currently makes up just 0.3% of the world’s power. These high predictions are thanks to falling costs for offshore wind and proactive government policies that are aimed to increase capacity and could help to remove up to 7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions from the power sector globally, according to the IEA. In addition, offshore wind has become the first technology to agree a Sector Deal with the government, expected to attract billions of pounds of investment into the country. This deal will see capacity quadruple in the next 10 years, with offshore wind predicted to generate one-third of the UK’s total electricity needs.

What does this mean for jobs?

The government Sector Deal means that tens of thousands of highly-skilled jobs will be created across the UK, adding to the existing 11,000 long-term quality jobs the sector currently provides. As investment increases and new projects emerge, we can expect to see more manufacturing jobs created in the sector as well as apprenticeships and opportunities for people from other disciplines to enter the offshore wind sector. There is an enhanced focus on diversity, with RenewableUK setting a target to ensure the industry is made up of 33% women by 2030, and more innovation in technologies like AI and robotics set to keep driving the sector forward. North East companies have announced plans to create 1,200 jobs to meet growing international demand, and with more wind farms being constructed and planned than those that are currently in construction, it’s safe to say that offshore wind is very much a candidate-driven market currently. 

Growth in the North Sea will see Scotland, East of England, Yorkshire, Humber and the North East requiring thousands of new skilled offshore wind professionals, particularly across the construction and installation and operations and maintenance phases of the project lifecycle. Technicians and engineers will see an abundance of roles emerge onto the market in the coming years, and we will likely see professionals from oil and gas fields and onshore wind looking to take up these opportunities in offshore wind. Skills such as asset and project management, mechanical and electrical engineering and IT and network system expertise are all in demand and will continue to be as the industry moves towards an even bigger, brighter future. 

Find your next offshore wind job with Quanta

At Quanta, we work with market-leading offshore wind operators who are always looking for skilled and experienced offshore wind professionals. Whether you’re an engineer, technician, project manager or something else entirely, we can help you find your next role. Take a look at our latest offshore wind jobs or read more about what’s happening in the sector