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Nov 29, 2023 Energy

Is the North East at the forefront of the UK's Renewable Energy Industry?

In October, Dogger Bank Wind Farm marked a significant milestone by generating electricity, soon to become the world's largest offshore wind farm. The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, hailed it as a key contributor to energy security, job creation, lower electricity bills, and progress toward Net Zero.

The momentum continued at Offshore Wind North East 2023, a premier event showcasing offshore wind opportunities. Invest North East England participated, emphasizing the region's rich history in offshore wind since 2000, making it a global industry leader.

A crucial theme emerged — the importance of developing skills in the offshore wind sector. In the North East Universities, more than half of all 120,000 students are studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. With the region's universities focusing on STEM subjects and pioneering facilities like Newcastle College's Energy Academy, Northumberland College's Wind Turbine Technical Training Centre, and South Shields Marine School, the North East is actively building a skilled workforce for the future.

Work has begun on phase one of a new Energy Central Campus where young people and adults will be able to develop the skills needed to take up careers in the clean energy sector. The flagship Energy Central Learning Hub, which is due to open in autumn 2024, will provide a range of state-of-the-art industrial training, education and STEM-related skills facilities.

Another theme the conference spotlighted was floating offshore wind, with discussions centering on port infrastructure as a key facilitator for growth. One of the key issues preventing rapid growth for this sub-sector here in the North East is port infrastructure. The Port of Tyne, Smulders UK, and Shepherd Offshore are jointly seeking government funding to bolster infrastructure and enable more floating offshore wind projects to be delivered.

The region's capabilities, coupled with a robust supply chain and expanding sector employment, have positioned the North East as a prime destination at the forefront of offshore wind. Recent developments like the Dogger Bank Wind Farm operations and maintenance base at the Port of Tyne, expansion in the offshore wind supply chain, and increased interest from businesses, including engineering consultancies, looking to establish a presence in the North East, all make the North East an extremely attractive prospect for investors.

As offshore wind takes center stage in the UK's energy landscape, the government's ambitious target of 50GW by 2030, including 5GW of floating offshore wind, aligns well with the North East's capabilities. With four ports, a growing supply chain, and cutting-edge research and development, the region is poised to contribute significantly to achieving these targets, fostering job growth, economic prosperity, and a sustainable green energy future.

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