29 September 2010 | Lindsay Clark
The UK currently lacks capacity in key parts of the supply chain to build offshore wind farms, according to the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).
Although the UK is leading the world in installation of offshore wind turbines, building a UK-based supply chain requires further government investment, the report found.
“Development of UK offshore wind is likely to require policy to continue to engage actively in supporting the development of docks and other facilities.
“It is also important for policy to continue to support innovation, reduce problems with planning and grid connection and support the development of the UK supply chain,” the UKERC said.
Currently 80 per cent of offshore wind turbines located in UK waters are built elsewhere in Europe, increasing costs, the report said.
Building a greater proportion in the UK would lower costs because of favourable exchange rates, it said. “Bringing more of the supply chain to Britain will maintain downward pressure on costs if the pound remains relatively cheap by historic norms, in line with recent UK government expectations.”
The UKERC concluded that early small scale developments did not give a good guide to future costs. “Rapid upscaling of an emerging technology can create supply chain constraints, amplify design flaws and cause costs to rise while progress is slower than expected.”