CSR and the Impact of Offshore Wind Power for the UK

The UK is on the way to grabbing a 10% share of the global offshore wind market by 2050.

Analysis by The Carbon Trust also shows that offshore wind could deliver between 20 to 50% of our total electricity by the same date. From a CSR perspective, both of these pieces of news are highly significant.

Internally, the UK needs to meet a European Union renewable energy target of 15% by 2020. Offshore wind energy is a realistic option for meeting this target as the technology, based on adapted onshore wind technology, is ready.

The US and China have recently indicated ambitious targets for offshore wind capacity – helping boost the global market. Renewable energy looks as if it could become a CSR success story for the UK.

The UK is already the leading country in terms of installed capacity for offshore wind energy. As a result, the key wind turbine manufacturers are based in the UK as well as leading companies in design, research and development. This element of renewable energy is an area in which the UK is leading the field and showing real CSR leadership. The UK also has an historic advantage from its offshore experience in oil and gas exploration, particularly in the North Sea.

The Carbon Trust’s research indicates that the offshore wind industry will grow by 10% a year of the next 40 years and be worth £170bn by 2050. UK businesses operating in this industry could capture 3% of the global market for components to around 15% for installation.

In the UK, offshore wind could contribute between £3bn and £10bn a year to GDP between 2010 and 2050. This would mean a cumulative figure of between £50-£100bn. The industry development is estimated to create between 80,000 and 230,000 jobs. The majority of the contribution to GDP (around 80%) would come from European markets. A total of 80% of the jobs would be generated from exports from the UK.

Benj Sykes, director of Innovations at the Carbon Trust, said:
“Offshore wind is a strategically important economic asset for the UK that can deliver long term growth and energy security. The economic prize for the UK economy is vast and we have to grab it now. We are in an excellent position to be a global market leader.”

Given the fact that the UK is an island, it is perhaps not surprising that we should have quietly developed this specialism. A number of different offshore wind farms are either in train or have recently been given approval. Thanet, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, opened last year. It has 100 turbines, and can generate electricity for 200,000 homes. Earlier this year plans were approved for the Humber Gateway offshore wind farm, which will be able to power 15,000 homes.

This is a CSR triumph for the UK – in terms of the environment and the economy.

Photo credit: Kim Hansen