Spoken address at the reception for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Celtic Sea at the House of Commons, 11th January.
“The Celtic Sea Developer Alliance is a membership body hosted by Marine Energy Wales representing Floating Offshore Wind developers in the Celtic Sea.
Launched in Dublin in 2019, the alliance membership spans Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland, currently standing at 24 developers.
It’s aim is to promote the opportunity that exists in the Celtic Sea for floating offshore wind, or FLOW as its termed, to support the UK and Ireland’s drive towards Net Zero and energy security.
Many of you already understand that opportunity. While others may recognise FLOW as the big new kid on the block, but find it harder to truly comprehend how critical it will be in our low carbon and energy security journey. Tougher still to fathom the eye-watering scale of ambition that requires all of us – from industry and academia, public and private sector, right through to our political leaders – to use every lever at our disposal to realise the full force of that opportunity.
Let me help you. There is one target that says it all.
50 by 50. That’s the one you need to remember.
Offshore wind will become the backbone of our future energy system, requiring 100GW of installed capacity by 2050. FLOW will make up half of that. 50GW of FLOW by 2050. Or 50 by 50, to coin a phrase.
Heralding an epic transformation of our coastal region, FLOW offers an incredible return on investment. Roughly 44 billion in gross value added, creating more than 29,000 jobs in the process. All in return for an estimated £2 billion in support now during the industry’s early stages of development.
So where does the Celtic Sea fit into that 50 by 50 target? It is a critical player – as strategically important as Scotland, and the North Sea.
By The Crown Estate‘s own assessment, the Celtic Sea has the economic potential to accommodate roughly half of that 50 by 50 target. Ireland also has significant FLOW ambitions, and we will undoubtedly see future cross-border collaboration on supply chain, skills, port capacity and the flow of energy itself. At this very moment, the Greenlink Ireland-Wales interconnector is being built.
There’s no getting around it, without FLOW there’s no net zero, and without the Celtic Sea, FLOW won’t hit the mark.
But that does raise a further question – if FLOW is so vital, and the Celtic Sea so central, why does it need support? Won’t the opportunities – jobs, investment, global exports and cheap, secure, reliable energy – just, naturally…flow?
Well, first consider how big a mountain we have to climb to reach 50 by 50. We’re aiming to get 5GW of FLOW into UK waters by 2030. In just two decades that 5 has to become 50. What does that look like? Well 50 GW looks like at least two and a half thousand turbines. Or, 2-3 new turbines being built every week in the UK for 20 years.
There’s the eye-watering scale of ambition. A level of industrialisation that dwarfs even the second world war.
There are two versions of how that could play out. One is where coordinated, collaborative, strategic actions – by all of us – implemented in the short term to strengthen the sustainable growth of our regional and national supply chains, the capabilities of our ports, and upgrade our grid capacity, will deliver long term economic, social and environmental benefits across the UK for decades to come.
The other is where we sit back and watch our hard fought advantage slip away.
Remember those 29,000 jobs? They’re what’s on offer. The question is, how many of them do we want to capture? If we want all of them, the Celtic Sea Developer Alliance stresses:
· We need leasing delivered at scale. 4GW for the Celtic Sea is a good start, but Supply Chain and port infrastructure investors require visibility of scale and pipeline. If the ambition is to deliver half of the 50 by 50 target we need the Crown Estate, Welsh Government and UK Government to work together and clearly signal that intent.
· We need to consider how the CfD – or future support mechanisms – deliver commercial scale projects that incentivise regional development opportunity. Support now at a realistic market price will soon pay dividends, with FLOW set to achieve “subsidy free” levels in the 2030s.
· We urgently need investment in our port infrastructure – Without upgrades and rapid investment, those 2,500 plus turbines will not be built, deployed or maintained from our UK ports, and those 29,000 job opportunities will disappear. A successful Celtic Freeport bid between Port Talbot and Milford Haven will stimulate private sector investment, and we welcome the UK’s government’s £160 million FLOWMIS scheme, but it will be essential to balance Government support across the North and Celtic Sea, with a strong Regional Development Strategy.
· Timely and proportionate consenting is also critical, along with the necessary resources within those consenting authorities.
Opportunity alone is not enough – to unlock the socioeconomic benefits from the FLOW transition at the scale and pace required we need politicians and decision-makers to pull every lever at their disposal – investment and support now and signalled leasing at scale for the future.
Let’s be truly ambitious, because 50 by 50 demands we cannot afford to be anything less.”
Abigail Beck, Communications Manager for Marine Energy Wales, on behalf of the Celtic Sea Developer Alliance (CSDA)