Scotland’s offshore wind industry could create 28,000 jobs by 2020, contributing £7.1billion of investment to the economy, according to a report commissioned by Scottish Renewables and Scottish Enterprise.

The first comprehensive study of the potential impact of offshore wind on the Scottish economy suggests this new industry could create as many as 48,000 jobs – 28,000 directly, supported by a further 20,000 through related industries.

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The Scottish Offshore Wind: Creating an Industry report also highlights that Scotland already has major strengths in the supply chain to this new industry in areas such as cable laying and subsea structures, with a number of Scottish-based businesses already generating significant revenues from offshore wind development.

The report outlines four scenarios for the industry’s future growth (ranging from 1.3GW to 10.6GW) and warns that significant value and employment will only be achieved with strategic investments in grid, port facilities and the necessary skills provision. Failure to do so could result in Scotland developing only a fraction of currently leased sites, with the delivery of only 900 jobs.

Commenting on the figures, Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “Renewable energy is Scotland’s biggest economic opportunity in a generation, and the development of offshore wind will drive much of the expansion of the sector.

“We already have significant employment in the sector through companies like BiFab and Subocean, but this report confirms that the industry could become one of the country’s major employers over the next decade.

“However, it’s also clear that none of this can be taken for granted. Other parts of the UK and ports all over Europe are all fighting tooth and nail to secure investment and the economic benefits that offshore manufacturing and associated activity will bring.

“While Scotland has fantastic resources and facilities, if we are to attract major inward investors and grow the supply chain, we need to develop key ports and manufacturing facilities, as well as securing necessary grid connections and upgrades. And if we are to grow employment to these levels over the next ten years, we need schools, colleges and universities to focus on delivering the skills that this new industry requires.

“With construction of the next generation of offshore wind expected to begin in the middle of the decade, we don’t have time to waste.”

Jenny Hogan highlighted that just as Scotland’s oil and gas industry has turned into a major global player, so could offshore wind.

“It’s clear that the international market for offshore wind is growing every year. If Scotland’s businesses can develop technologies and deployment techniques to meet the needs of the UK and Europe offshore wind sector, we can grow an international hub and sell these services into the growing global market just as our world-leading subsea engineering sector has done.”

Adrian Gillespie, Senior Director of Energy and Low Carbon Technologies at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Scotland has for many years been a leader in extracting energy from the sea. The country’s natural resources, leading offshore wind farm developers, world class subsea and manufacturing expertise as well as our leading academic excellence in areas relevant to offshore wind innovation put Scotland in a wonderful position to reap the economic benefits of the rapid move to low carbon electricity.

“Scotland’s National Renewable Infrastructure Plan has set out a clear framework for the development of our ports infrastructure and initiatives such as September’s Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference in Edinburgh are establishing this country as a leader in low carbon investment.”

Mr Gillespie added: “This report sets out the scale of the opportunity that the rapidly evolving offshore wind sector offers Scotland’s economy. It also highlights how all of these resources we have and the combined efforts across industry, government and academia need to be aligned in such a way that the most ambitious scenario is achieved.

“We have already seen substantial new employment in Scotland as a result of offshore wind in areas such as design and project management, subsea services and offshore wind substructures and plant. This report shows us that this is just the beginning however, and that if we can build on this momentum we will have a very substantial new industry firmly grounded in Scotland.”

Source: Scottish Renewables

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