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The UK needs a renewable supply chain

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Posted on 26/06/2013 by Wayne Brophy FCILT

It is essential that the UK develops a supply chain for the offshore wind industry, or investments will drop off.

This is according to a report by RenewableUK and the Crown Estate. It found that by 2030 the UK will need more than 39 factories in order to manufacture different components. However, Britain will also needs over 20 large ships to install the turbines, and 230 smaller vessels to help maintain them.

At the moment, the UK does not have the infrastructure necessary to support offshore wind in the future and the report stressed that the next 12 months will be "critical" to decide whether the investments will be made in Britain or elsewhere.

"The UK has, by a country mile, the world's most successful and ambitious offshore wind programme," said RenewableUK deputy chief executive Maf Smith.

"However, it is important that we pause and consider the next phase of growth, and take stock of what further opportunities could come to the UK, given that we expect to dominate the international league table for ambition in offshore wind for some time to come."

Wind farms already produce some three gigawatts of power, with new farms proposed in Barrow, Belfast, Lowestoft, Merseyside, Grimsby, Teesside and Mostyn expected to add a further 1.5 gigawatts to the total.

According to the report, in the next seven years this figure could rise to as much as 20 gigawatts of power, roughly the equivalent energy to power 15 million homes. However, unless Britain acts fast it could lose its position as one of the renewable energy leaders – especially as Germany has just broken records for the amount of solar energy it produced this year.

He urged the UK to take confident steps this year to set up clear supply chains in order to become more attractive to investors and lead the way in renewable energy.

"2013 could be the year when we cement the UK's place at the head of this global shift to a low carbon economy; a strategic business sector delivering vital low carbon electricity as the end product of a healthy UK supply chain," said Mr Smith.

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