UK Unveils GBP 50 Million Fund to Boost Offshore Wind Supply Chain

The Crown Estate has initiated a Supply Chain Accelerator to stimulate early-stage investment in the UK offshore wind supply chain.

The accelerator is a new GBP 50 million (approximately EUR 58.7 million) fund created to accelerate and de-risk the early-stage development of projects linked to offshore wind.

An initial GBP 10 million round of funding is now open for Expressions of Interest for businesses looking to establish UK projects that could support the development of a new UK supply chain capability for floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea.

The application process opens formally in mid-June and closes at the end of July. The final announcement will be made in October 2024.

Earlier this year, the Crown Estate published research, the Celtic Sea Blueprint, which predicted that 5,300 jobs and a GBP 4.1 billion economic boost could be generated through deploying the first floating offshore wind capacity, that will result from the current leasing Round 5 process, under which leases for up to 4.5 GW of generation capacity will be awarded in the waters off South Wales and South-West England.

The research outlined several supply chain development opportunities essential for floating wind farms, including floating platform components, dynamic cables and connections, wet storage infrastructure and facilities, operations and management infrastructure and facilities, and skills transition facilities.

The accelerator’s first GBP 10 million funding round will target projects addressing these opportunities, offering up to GBP 1 million in matched funding for early-stage development. The Crown Estate said it will look for the option to participate in the capital investment phase.

“The Supply Chain Accelerator will enable investment in priority capabilities and skills to aid the delivery of the opportunities within the Celtic Sea Blueprint, driving economic growth regionally for the benefit of the UK as a whole and ensuring we are driving value onshore through offshore activity,” said Gus Jaspert, Managing Director, Marine at the Crown Estate.

A further GBP 40 million round of funding has been earmarked that could potentially be deployed to support UK projects that meet the opportunities identified by the Industrial Growth Plan, which was launched last month, setting out the actions required to triple offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next ten years.

The UK’s offshore wind pipeline grew by 10 GW in 2023 to 93 GW, with the sector producing 49 TWh of electricity last year, according to the Crown Estate’s recently published UK Offshore Wind Report 2023.

The UK government estimates that 125 GW could be needed by 2050 to meet net zero, “hence investment in the UK’s supply chain is crucial if the industry is to remain competitive in the face of global efforts to decarbonise energy networks,” according to the Crown Estate.

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