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Offshore energy offers £2 billion opportunity

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 13, 2012

EXPERT: Johnny Gowdy, Regen SW director.

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AN Offshore Energy Supply Chain Event, hosted by RWE and Regen SW in Exeter, revealed £2 billion in offshore wind and marine energy opportunities that could be secured by businesses in the area.

"This is a huge opportunity, driven by a massive offshore industry investment over the next decade," said Johnny Gowdy, director at renewable energy experts Regen SW.

"The UK government has set the industry an ambitious target that 50 per cent of the expenditure for these projects should be sourced within the UK. For a project like Atlantic Array, that represents a £2 billion pound opportunity, but of course this is only going to happen if we have the right companies with the skills and capabilities to compete and win work."

Some of this growth will be achieved if the UK is able to exploit its growing market size to attract major wind turbine manufacturers such as Siemens and GE Energy, who both presented at the event.

Although likely to be focused in the North East, where there are plans to establish large-scale manufacturing hubs on the Tyne and Humberside, the supply chain for component parts could reach into the South West with companies such as Beran Instruments and TDK-Lambda, which are well placed to win orders.

"It's not just the turbines," added Johnny. "To maximise UK jobs we need to look at all aspects of the supply chain from large components such as foundations and sub-stations through to power systems and onshore infrastructure, offshore and sub-sea operations, and the support services associated with these large-scale infrastructure projects."

Barnstaple-based J and S, which is already winning work in the sector, was one of the companies to present, taking the opportunity to highlight the importance of innovation and the ability to transfer capabilities developed in other industries to win work in the offshore energy sector.

Chris Napier, general manager at J and S said: "We know the offshore energy sector is looking for new solutions, whether it be to drive down costs, increase efficiency, or improve safety. At J and S we have been able to apply the skills and capabilities developed from our defence and oil and gas experience to offer new products such as our sub-sea electrical systems."

The importance of developing a suitably skilled workforce was also highlighted by Exeter and Plymouth universities and Petroc.

Colin Wadsworth from Petroc said: "We are already providing apprenticeship training in mechanical and electrical engineering and working with our industry partners Babcock. It makes perfect sense for us now to include additional modules designed to support wind farm technicians both for our apprentices and for experienced personnel who want to develop new skills."

Alistair Gill, head of offshore development at RWE, said: "This event has been a great advert for the strength in depth within the South West supply chain. We are already working with a number of these companies on the Atlantic Array project and we look forward to working with many more both directly and through our supply chain partners as the project progresses."

For details visit regensw.co.uk

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