Barrow and Offshore Wind

The scale of the offshore opportunity was laid in stark relief in the submarine producing coastal town of Barrow in Furness in my beloved North West of England yesterday; The offshore wind industry is reaching out to a potential supply chain as it seeks to grow.

I previously shared with you a stated intention of the offshore wind industry in the UK to treble within the next decade. This is no longer the case; the industry is becoming something of a political staple and even the most conservative options indicate an eye- wateringly ambitious quadrupling by 2030.

Barrow is well-used to offshore wind hosting the world’s largest offshore wind farm. I shared thoughts on round-four-bidders-day of how well situated the Liverpool Bay is for continued development, and stakeholders are engaging with companies so that the benefits from the sector deal can be shared out, especially to regions hosting the sites.

The scale is already immense, the operations and maintenance of existing wind farms has contracts of around 200 million pounds per annum already being fulfilled. Barrow already hosts four Operations and Maintenance bases employing hundreds of local people and augmented by a heliport just up the coast. Such facilities will become increasingly important as wind farms move further out to sea.  With Round 4 progressing and possibilities emerging from both Ireland and Scotwind future expansion can be anticipated.

The North West coastal opportunity

Businesses were treated to a series of talks from existing supply chain companies ranging from the innovative ‘hi-def’ utilising airplane spotting techniques to gain environmental data – to companies operating out of Barrow’s operations and maintenance bases sharing their insights as to good business practice. The event was well attended with a real buzz amongst SME’s and manufacturing companies looking to engage with the sector.

It was great to see the Crown Estate engage and effective support emanating from the Local Enterprise Partnership with its ‘Northern Powerhouse’ strategy dovetailing well with the sector deal. Some big developers including Innogy and Orsted gave guidance as to what exactly they look for from the potential supply chain.

Equally heartening for the future was the input from Furness college and especially the brave apprentices who stood up to tell the packed room of their nascent career in offshore wind and the opportunities available to youngsters. Barrow hosts one of the largest continents of apprentices in the UK and this number is likely to continue to grow.

I’m delighted a call for action underpinning an article for the Liverpool city region supply-chain-opportunities-for-offshore-wind-in-the-north-west-of-england/ is being acted upon, and by both that the city region and local enterprise partnerships. 

This will ensure that Barrow emulates the success of Grimsby and Humberside  to benefit from transformation and change not just from offshore wind but also innovation with battery arrays and hydrogen with both being discussed as questions from the floor were taken.

Barrow has an additional opportunity emerging as initial Rounds 1 and 2 offshore wind farms are coming to the end of their lives with decommissioning and life-extension talks are taking place with BEIS and Ofgem.

In the 1970s when oil and gas discoveries took place of the Scottish coast there was no ‘supply chain’, it evolved as the industry developed. Offshore Wind is perhaps better placed and can learn from the experience and engage those interested at the earliest opportunity and a chance to think globally from the outset.

I look forward to further engagement and liaising with the local enterprise partnership to ensure momentum is maintained.

I chatted to companies ranging from those with innovative designs for couplings used in oil and gas to those looking to provide low carbon plant hire to future projects. 

The industry is reaching out to companies such as them and will keep you up to date as round 4 and the offshore wind industry continues its dramatic move forward. On 8 February 2021 The Crown Estate revealed the following opportunity for Barrow,the North West of England and North Wales.
Interested? Feel free to join me at the Northern Powerhouse: Offshore Wind and Hydrogen Professionals Group

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