Offshore Wind and Supply Chain Conference 2013

I was given a great opportunity at the end of January to attend Scottish Renewables’ Offshore Wind and Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition, which was held in Aberdeen on January 29th and 30th.  This was an exciting and interesting event where I had the chance to attend a number of the conference sessions and meet many of the key people involved in the industry.  This year’s conference marked the fifth year that the conference has been held and proved to be the biggest yet, with attendance numbers totalling between 800 and 900 people. 

One of the key outcomes of the conference, in my opinion, was the announcement by First Minister Alex Salmond in his keynote speech on the Tuesday morning, that HIE has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with four of the Highlands leading ports to support the development of the offshore renewables sector.  MoUs have been agreed with Global Energy Nigg, Port of Ardersier Ltd, Kishorn Port Ltd and Cromarty Firth Port Authority, all of which have a long history in servicing the oil and gas sector.  Many of the skills and expertise these companies use in the oil and gas sector can be adapted and transferred to the offshore renewables sector.

These MoUs will support and enable further development of the sector and help owners and operators to secure consents, market opportunities and attract investments.  It is evident that these major ports are ideally located and possess the resources necessary for the development and deployment of offshore renewable energy.  HIE is committed to working in collaboration with ports throughout the region to ensure that they are investor ready and capable of supporting various operations such as manufacturing, fabrication, assembly and deployment.

Another key outcome from the conference was the announcement of the new decarbonisation target for 2030, which highlights the commitment of the Scottish Government to the offshore renewables sector post 2020. This new target was included in Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting our Emissions Reduction Targets 2013-2027, which was published by the Scottish Government on Tuesday 29th January, 2013 – in line with the opening day of the conference. This document is a draft of the RPP2 (which is the second report on proposals and policies for meeting Scotland’s annual GHG emissions targets).

This year’s conference saw the first ever offshore wind conference dinner, which was held at the Marcliffe Hotel & Spa in Aberdeen.  I also had the privilege of attending this event which proved to be a very successful and entertaining evening.  Energy Minister Fergus Ewing was in attendance and spoke at the conference dinner.

I have really been enjoying my role within HIE so far and I look forward to continuing my work and having the opportunity to attend more events like the Offshore Wind & Supply Chain Conference.  I will also hopefully get the chance to meet more industry leaders as well as visit some of the key renewable energy generation sites throughout Scotland.

Some additional key points from this year’s conference:

  • 80% of investors agree that Scotland is the most attractive place to invest
  • UK targets and a stable market are what attracted investors, as well as renewable energy support and enthusiasm for the sectors’ development, the natural wind resources, and the industry and skills that are available
  • The UK exceeded its interim target of 31% renewables – there is now a new target of 50% renewables by 2015, and 100% by 2020
  • We have an ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 – Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), renewable energy generation and demand management will be required to help meet this target
  • There are 4 GW of offshore projects in the consent process, another 4 GW are planned for consent
  • There are currently enough projects in the consenting system to meet the 2020 target
  • There will be more market certainty and stability if consents are good and timely
  • Major investments in infrastructure required – ports and harbours are needed for the build-out of major offshore projects
  • There are major space requirements for large and heavy-duty offshore wind components, such as turbine towers and foundations
  • The refurbishment of ports and harbours are to be tailored to the renewable energy industry, capable of large component manufacture, support and maintenance
  • Local content is very attractive – due to complications and costs of shipping larger, heavy-duty components over large distances
  • Supply chain companies need to engage early in markets, communication and clarity required with customer engagement – Find partners, help internationalise and diversify
  • Companies with the desire and capability to diversify and expand into the offshore renewables sector should avail of Scottish Enterprises’ Offshore Wind Expert Support Programme, which offers up to two days of free support and advice and works with your company to help you address your specific needs and requirements.  This programme will aid companies to expand their business and engage more effectively with the offshore renewables sector.





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