Offshore wind energy could create 100,000 jobs by 2020

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) will today launch the findings of a report commissioned by project developer Mainstream Renewable Power examining the economic impact of the emerging industry.

The study aims to build on work by the government and industry-backed Offshore Valuation Group (OVG), which in 2010 concluded the sector could transform the country from a net energy importer to a net energy exporter by the middle of the century, generate the electricity equivalent of one billion barrels of oil per year, and create more than 145,000 new jobs.

However, Mainstream and Cebr will today report that 45,000 of those jobs could be created by 2015, rising to 97,000 new jobs by 2020, and reaching 173,000 by 2030.

Based on current build-out rates to deliver 33GW of offshore wind by the early 2020s, the report finds that the sector would contribute 0.4 per cent of GDP per year by 2020, rising to 0.6 per cent in 2030.

A more ambitious scenario could see an annual one per cent uplift to GDP and an increase in net exports to £22.5bn per year by 2030.

The paper is being launched as a precursor to a sister paper set to be published later this year outlining the investment opportunities for the sector.

Eddie O’Connor, chief executive of Mainstream Renewable Power, said the report was designed to help companies realise the potential of offshore wind. It is being unveiled the day before the industry-led Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force unveils its action plan to cut the cost of electricity produced by wind to £100 per megawatt hour (MWh) by 2020.

"We have embarked on a one-off transition to a sustainable economy," said O’Connor. "All forms of renewable energy, from solar energy to tidal energy, will contribute to delivering this transition in the UK.

"But offshore wind provides this country with a clear global comparative advantage, particularly when the UK government and industry will this week publish their strategy to reduce the cost of offshore wind to £100/MWh by 2020.

"Cebr’s findings underline the importance of that strategy, and the very significant potential economic benefit that this sector will deliver to the UK."