The UK’s energy sector is evolving rapidly to deliver the ambitious net-zero targets outlined by the UK and devolved governments. As the world leader in offshore wind, with more installed capacity than any other nation, wind energy will undoubtedly play a significant part in achieving these national goals. Whilst onshore wind energy is the most cost-effective option for generating new electivity, offshore wind costs have decreased by 66% since 2015, making it one of the country’s biggest growth industries currently powering over 4.5 million UK homes annually.
There is enormous potential for wind-generated electricity in the UK, with over 24GW of capacity awarded in 2022 through the first ScotWind licencing round, across 17 leases. ScotWind shows the UK’s commitment to and support for extensive offshore wind industry, as well as contributing to the government’s deployment target of 40GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.
The Scottish Government’s Offshore Wind Policy Statement (Oct 2020) recognises the need to develop the skills landscape in order to maximise the economic benefit of the industry, and ready the workforce for the 31,000+ jobs forecast by 2040 in ORE Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind People, Skills and Vocations Report. This is evident in the launch of the £25 million National Transition Training Fund and the £100 million Green Jobs Fund, which will help up-, re- and new-skill across all levels, to ensure a responsive and just energy transition and achieve the Offshore Wind Sector Deal ambition providing over 30% of UK electricity from offshore wind by 2030.
PREPARING FOR SUCCESS
The skills system is already responding, with programmes starting in August 2022 at the North East of Scotland College to enable students to make the most of the opportunities offshore wind presents. The ECITB Wind Turbine Technician Pathway will run at the college’s Aberdeen Altens Campus, with student bursaries provided by ETZ Ltd. The first cohort of technicians will develop their engineering skills and knowledge, as well as an understanding of the new technologies essential to the join the energy transition.
THE FLOATING WIND SKILLS ACCELERATOR
In May 2022, a Floating Wind Skills Accelerator Memorandum of Understanding was signed by NESA, ScottishPower Renewables and Shell. This partnership focuses on:
This significant step demonstrates industry support for the skills agenda, ongoing engagement with NESA and commitment to preparing the UK workforce for offshore wind energy jobs and a sustainable future.