The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator project represents a huge opportunity for Cornwall and South West England. It is set to transform the region into a world leader in floating offshore wind.
This pioneering project will spearhead the industrialisation of floating offshore wind in the South West of England. It will capitalise on the UK government’s announcement in October 2020 of the UK’s ambition to become a world leader in floating offshore wind.
Floating offshore wind (FLOW ) is a fast-growing regional and global opportunity.
The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator project is the only project that has been shortlisted as a £66 million project, in line to attract £34 million from UKRI ‘Strength in Places’ funding in South West UK. As a result, it has received early funding to prepare a full submission in late November 2020 with a view to project commencement in early 2021.
This is a major opportunity that will create thousands of new jobs and position the South West at the forefront of global innovation in offshore renewables and floating wind.
The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator is being led by Wave Hub Ltd, (the Cornwall Council-owned marine renewables research and technology organisation) in collaboration with the University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, A&P Group, with the support of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council.
“This ambitious project will leverage Cornwall and Plymouth's world-renowned excellence in offshore renewables research and business. It will accelerate the region’s readiness for large scale FLOW and will fast-track development of the region's capacity to build-out large-scale wind farms in the Celtic Sea from 2025 onwards. The Great South West has the potential to make a decisive contribution to the UK’s offshore wind energy targets by developing a new floating wind industry that can create thousands of jobs with huge export potential.”
Steve Jermy, CEO, Wave Hub Ltd
Why is Floating Offshore Wind such a big opportunity for the Greater South West?
Floating platforms can access stronger winds in deeper waters than conventional fixed offshore wind turbines. The Celtic Sea (which is an area off the coast of Cornwall and West Wales and south of Ireland) has some of the best wind resources in Europe.
A report published in 2020 by ORE Catapult and commissioned by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and the Welsh Government estimated that floating wind industry in the Celtic Sea could support 3,200 jobs in the South West and Wales and £682m of spend in the local supply chain by 2030, while powering hundreds of thousands of homes. Nationally, the floating wind industry could support 17,000 jobs and generate £33.6 billion of economic activity, with huge export potential.
The FLOW Accelerator project will deliver fast results in the South West. By 2025, the region will be ready for the first 500 MW FLOW farms.
The total Celtic Sea Zone will deploy up to 120 GW, of which up to 86.4 GW will be in the South West Zone.
Opportunities for collaboration and engagement
This is a collaborative partnership project that builds on existing outstanding strengths in research and innovation and is reaching out to the wider business community to galvanise RD&I in floating wind in the region. It will position the Greater South West as a leader in floating offshore renewables. This will raise the region’s profile and will attract further investment, as well as creating significant new export opportunities. The project will focus on supply chain development and will build the region’s capacity for growth over the long term. The opportunities are wide ranging:
The region has world-leading floating wind research expertise and RD&I test facilities. The project will leverage these for new product and service development for industrial partners, building clear routes to market as well as de-risking investment.
The region has an excellent port infrastructure and this will be developed to fully exploit this growth market.
The region has an outstanding skills base in offshore renewables and marine technology. This project will lead to the creation of new jobs in Development and Design, Manufacture, Assembly, Installation and O&M. The project will work with both Further and Higher Education providers to ensure a pipeline of high quality skilled regional labour, including setting up a SW FLOW Academy.
The project will drive an ambitious RD&I programme which will help propel the development of floating offshore wind in the region. This will include: Seabed Surveying; Consenting; Technology Cost Reduction; Marine Operations; Machine Learning and AI; Offshore Energy and Transmission.
Businesses are invited to engage in industrially led RD&I to further shape new product and service development arising from core research programme thinking to enable commercial success. Businesses located in Plymouth, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly will receive direct grant funding totalling up to £19m for developer-led strategic research, supply chain solutions and innovation designed to meet SME technology challenges.
Next steps on the journey
This is one of the most exciting and ambitious economic development projects ever undertaken in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. The project submission to UKRI for up to £34 million of ‘Strength in Places’ funding towards this £66 million project will take place in late November 2020 with the outcome expected by April 2021. If successful, the project will kick off by July 2021.
Together we can seize this opportunity and turn Cornwall and South West England into one of the world’s most vibrant and successful regions driving the development of floating offshore wind.
New jobs by 2030 in Development, Design and Manufacture – 1320
New job by 2030 in Assembly and Installation – 1155
Long term jobs in O&M and decommissioning – c 1000
“This project is about global innovation in a high value industry and is a cornerstone of our Local Industrial Strategy. It is an opportunity to lead a post-pandemic green recovery and make a huge contribution to the UK’s economy and the fight against climate change.”
Mark Duddridge, Chair of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP