Jobs in the North-East of the UK could swell thanks to a new UK Government-pledged deal for the offshore wind industry. The deal will see UK energy minister Claire Perry announce £250 million investment into the sector.
Not only would the deal secure jobs in the industry, but it will also focus on increasing the number of women in the sector. The goal is to more than double the current number of females in the workforce. Currently, this is at only 16% women in the offshore wind workforce.
Facilitating the transfer of skills between oil and gas and the renewable energy industry will also be a key focus for the UK Government. UK-wide jobs are estimated to increase by more than 20,000 workers, wit Scotland seeing a potential jump from 3,400 to more than 10,000 jobs.
The Aberdeen Bay project and the giant 84-turbine Beatrice Offshore Windfarm are both due to be completed this year, which during construction provided thousands of jobs in the North-East and Highlands area. Other offshore wind farms in the area included the 950 megawatts Moray East Offshore Windfarm and the Kincardine Floating project are scheduled for construction in 2020.
The announcement of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal by the energy minister saw a host of big renewable firms pledge for further investments. ScottishPower revealed it was pursuing offshore wind project in Scotland, in addition to the several onshore projects it currently operates in the Highlands.
Scottish Powers’ chief executive, Keith Anderson, said last night: “The sector deal will attract even more businesses in the UK to join the offshore wind supply chain and we are excited to see the transformative impact this will have on our projects.”
Not everyone has been equally optimistic of the deal. Dick Winchester from the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board accused the Government of “chasing policy without having a proper industrial strategy to support it”.
Lewis MacDonald, North-east Labour MSP also warned that whilst the new deal was “positive” for the industry, the UK Government “must hold up its end of the bargain”.
On the other hand, head of energy industries at Highlands and Islands Enterprise welcomed the news with open arms siting the benefits of offshore wind enjoyed by areas such as Campbeltown, Anish, Invergorden, and Wick.
Jean Morrison, chairwoman of Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) said: “The North East has significant expertise in its local supply chain, who have already played a valuable contribution to delivering offshore wind and securing investment, which will be vital in delivering the targets set out in the sector deal. “We want to ensure that new developments deliver the ambitions for job creation for our local supply chain.”