Offshore wind sector to boost UK GDP by 0.6 per cent by 2030

The net economic benefit to UK plc from investment in offshore wind is considerable, says Cebr

Wind turbines. Photograph: Getty Images.

Investment in the offshore wind sector will boost the UK gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.6 per cent by 2030 and sustain 173,000 jobs, according to a new report published by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), commissioned by wind plant developer Mainstream Renewable Power (MRP).

The report reveals that potential for UK offshore wind sector will create 45,000 jobs by 2015 and over 97,000 jobs by 2020. By 2030 with a £18.8bn boost in net exports offshore wind could plug 75 per cent of the country’s current balance of trade deficit.

Eddie O’Connor, CEO of MRP, said: 

Cebr shows that the net economic benefit to UK plc from investment in offshore wind is considerable. The foreign trade multiplier effect is of particular interest to a sector which has the potential to supply a global market. By helping the UK reduce fossil fuel imports, and by creating a new industry, offshore wind will create jobs, assist in balancing the trade deficit and boost GDP at a time of economic uncertainty.

Later this year we will publish a companion paper which will show that offshore wind is a very attractive investment to include in a diversified, low carbon generation resource portfolio.  Including a substantial amount of offshore wind will help in the achievement of the government's long-term goals to decarbonise the UK’s electricity sector by lowering risk and cost to UK consumers.

We have embarked on a once off transition to a sustainable economy. All forms of renewable energy, from solar energy to tidal energy, will contribute to delivering this transition in the UK. But offshore wind provides this country with a clear global comparative advantage, particularly when the UK government and industry will this week publish their strategy to reduce the cost of offshore wind to £100/MWh by 2020. Cebr's findings underline the importance of that strategy, and the very significant potential economic benefit that this sector will deliver to the UK.

Oliver Hogan, head of microeconomics at Cebr and principal author of the report, said:

The current economic circumstances and the competitive challenges facing the UK highlight the importance of taking actions to improve the country’s trade balance.  Such actions, by acting directly on the factor that is constraining growth, can be expected to have particularly important foreign trade multiplier impacts.

It is Cebr’s contention that, given the positive impacts on the UK's balance of trade outlined in our report, these significant multiplier impacts can be expected to derive from investment in offshore wind.

Two years ago, the Offshore Valuation Group measured the value of the UK's offshore renewable energy resource and concluded that, by 2050 - by harnessing less than a third of that resource - the UK could generate the electricity equivalent of 1bn barrels of oil a year, reduce its CO2 emissions by 1bn tonnes and create over 145,000 new jobs.

The new Cebr/MRP report looks at the economic impact of the UK’s offshore wind sector out to 2030 and explores the impact of planned investment in offshore wind electricity generating capacity in the UK.