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Delays in wind manufacturing threaten UK net zero targets

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has released a pivotal report titled "A Second Wind: Maximising the Economic Opportunity for UK Wind Manufacturing." The findings reveal that the United Kingdom is at risk of missing critical economic and environmental targets due to current deficiencies in offshore wind manufacturing capabilities.

Key findings

- Delayed targets: The UK is projected to miss its 2030 offshore wind targets by a significant margin, with current trajectories not meeting requirements until 2048 – 18 years behind schedule.

- Economic and employment opportunities: According to IPPR, enhancing domestic manufacturing of wind turbines could create thousands of jobs and inject billions of pounds into the UK economy.

- Policy recommendations: The report urges the government to secure long-term contracts for developers, provide targeted grants, and upgrade infrastructure to facilitate large-scale offshore wind farm installations.


Source: The Institute for Public Policy Research 


The UK urgently needs to accelerate wind deployment to meet its targets

According to the report, the UK is significantly behind on its offshore wind energy targets, with a current deployment rate suggesting it won't meet its 50GW goal until 2048.

Offshore wind deployment even declined in 2023, with only 800MW added, compared to 2.7GW in 2022. The situation for onshore wind is more critical due to past government restrictions, and although these have been lifted, planning hurdles continue to deter investment. Despite these challenges, there is a strong potential for growth in onshore wind, with industry suggestions to aim for a 30GW capacity by 2030, almost doubling the capacity from the end of 2023.

Manufacturing shortfalls and global positioning

The UK lags notably behind other European nations in the manufacturing of crucial wind turbine components such as nacelles, blades, towers, foundations, and cables. Notably, the UK hosts no significant nacelle manufacturing facilities or major players in wind tower production.

Potential for growth

Despite these challenges, the UK holds a unique competitive advantage to escalate its role in wind manufacturing, backed by its substantial market for wind deployment and innovative green technologies. IPPR suggests that the UK is well-placed to establish additional manufacturing facilities rapidly, proposing the creation of new factories that could significantly decrease the nation's energy dependence and boost economic growth.

Economic impact of non-action

Failing to capitalize on these opportunities could jeopardize the UK's net-zero targets, threaten its energy independence, and miss critical economic growth chances. The report highlights the urgent need for a comprehensive industrial strategy to harness the economic benefits of the burgeoning wind sector.

Expert commentary

Simone Gasperin, Associate Fellow at IPPR, emphasized the missed opportunities and potential future gains, stating, "The UK has missed out from becoming a world leader not just in wind power, but also in wind manufacturing. This has cost thousands of jobs and billions for the economy, and is putting future net zero targets for wind deployment at risk. However, the UK is uniquely placed to become a world leader in manufacturing equipment for offshore wind farms. The government should grasp this opportunity with both hands."

Industry support

Ajai Ahluwalia, Head of Supply Chain at Renewable UK, supported these findings, highlighting a newly released Offshore Wind Industrial Growth Plan aimed at tripling the UK's offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next decade. This plan is expected to support an additional 10,000 jobs annually and boost the UK's economy by an additional £25 billion by 2035.

The IPPR's report serves as a clarion call to action for both the government and the private sector to invest in and support the wind manufacturing industry, ensuring the UK can meet its ambitious environmental targets while fostering economic growth and technological innovation in green industries.


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