A new report published this week by UK trade body RenewableUK shows that the country’s wind, wave, and tidal energy sectors are exporting their goods and services to the world on a massive scale, highlighting the growing importance of these technologies and the potential windfalls for the UK if the Government bets heavily on these industries.
The UK is a well-known leader in wind, wave, and tidal energy technologies. The UK’s current onshore operational wind capacity sits at just under 10 gigawatts (GW), while its offshore wind capacity sits at 5 GW, adding up to a total operational capacity of 14,756 GW. While the UK’s nascent wave and tidal energy industries are only just getting off the ground, they are nevertheless farther ahead than almost every other country, and some experts predict that wave and tidal stream energy could together deliver around 20% of the UK’s current electricity needs, or around 30 to 50 GW.
So it should come as no real surprise, then, that the UK’s wind, wave, and tidal energy industries are increasingly sought after globally.
The new report, Export Nation: A Year in UK Wind, Wave and Tidal Exports, published this week by the UK’s wind, wave, and tidal energy trade body, RenewableUK, shows that an illustrative sample of 36 UK-based firms in 2016 signed more than 500 contracts to work on renewable energy projects in 43 countries across Africa, Asia, North and South America, Europe, and Australasia. Further, the sampled projects ranged in value from £50,000 up to £30 million each. The top 10 most frequent export destinations in 2016 for UK-based wind and marine energy companies, in order of importance, were Germany, the USA, Denmark, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, France, Singapore, and Taiwan.
UK-based companies won onshore wind contracts in 28 countries, tidal energy contracts in 19 countries, offshore wind contracts in 18 countries, and wave energy contracts in 11 countries. The 36 companies sampled for the report signed a total of 557 export contracts in 2016, and worked on a total of 527 renewable energy projects overseas. In fact, the sheer variety of projects that the UK sectors are working on is impressive on its own:
“The 2016 contracts highlighted in this report cover an extraordinary variety of goods and services, including supplying and maintaining large, medium and small onshore wind turbines and components, installing offshore wind turbines and underwater power cables, inspecting and maintaining offshore wind farms, providing helicopters, crew and vessels for the offshore wind sector, developing wave and tidal energy projects and providing components for the marine energy industry, conducting geological surveys, weather forecasting, monitoring wildlife, and providing financial and legal services.”
The report serves simply as an example of the larger industry, representing only 36 companies, which represents less than 10% of RenewableUK’s membership.
“The UK’s wind, wave and tidal energy exports are great British success stories on the international stage,” said RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck.
“Our businesses are securing hundreds of contracts, worth millions of pounds, across six continents. Our leadership in this $290bn renewables marketplace will be even more important as we leave the EU.
“We need to act swiftly to retain this competitive advantage or other nations will capitalise on the hard work our businesses have done to build opportunities. This year, as part of its Industrial Strategy, the Government will be looking to identify and support world-leading, innovative industries with global trade potential. This report shows that the UK’s wind and marine energy sectors can offer much to the Government’s Industrial Strategy. Britain must secure its position as a leading exporter in tomorrow’s global energy market.”
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