Written by Associated British Ports
Securing a clean, affordable and reliable supply of energy is a global challenge, but one that presents the UK with enormous opportunities. Our ports have formed the backbone of the South Wales industrial base that has helped power the industrial revolution. They remain critical to enabling the growth of clean energy generation and the decarbonisation of industry, transport and logistics.
The deployment of 24GW of floating offshore wind (FLOW) in the Celtic Sea will deliver a clean and reliable supply of energy for Wales and the UK. This is one-quarter of the UK’s target.
It is also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to establish a major manufacturing and logistics support hub in South Wales and enable new low-carbon industries to co-locate in the region, creating new high-quality jobs and safeguarding existing industries in the process.
Associated British Ports (ABP) port at Port Talbot is the ideal location for this activity, offering deep water and adjacent development land in proximity to existing industrial assets and an established skills base.
This is because to be able to generate 24GW by 2045, we will need to build and deploy over 60 wind turbines a year. These structures will be around 300 metres tall – the size of the Shard in London and dwarfing Wales’ tallest building, the Meridian Tower in Swansea.
ABP is ready to invest over £500 million in new and upgraded port infrastructure to enable the manufacturing, assembly and launch of floating foundations and the import, storage and integration of wind turbine components on the site. Further, a Celtic Freeport will help to unlock the widest possible opportunities for Wales through accelerating significant inward investment in new manufacturing facilities to support the roll-out of FLOW, as well as from developers and operators in the supply chain.
The benefits are far reaching. The development of port infrastructure for offshore wind in other areas of the UK has helped drive regional economic development, with increased employment and schemes to develop skills in the supply chain. This creates skilled, long-term employment opportunities in a growing industry recognised for above-average levels of productivity.
In South Wales, there is the added potential to enable the decarbonisation of existing industrial activity – including steel production – through clean energy generation, green hydrogen production, carbon capture and storage and CO2 shipping. This process will simultaneously lead to the creation of new industries while safeguarding existing jobs in strategically significant sectors.
First-mover advantage is key to grasping this opportunity and capturing the full benefits of FLOW deployment and growth, giving Wales a competitive edge over rival hubs in Ireland and Europe and creating significant export opportunities. With the right policies and investment in port infrastructure we can grow port centric manufacturing linked to clean energy provision and spark a process of wider reindustrialisation and regeneration in South Wales.