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United Kingdom

UK firms accused of failing to compete for offshore business

UK: Former BP chairman Lord Browne has criticised British firms for failing to compete with overseas companies for the country's offshore wind business.

Browne said offshore wind energy can play a vital role in re-balancing the UK economy back to engineering, manufacturing and exports.  

Speaking at an offshore wind conference in Liverpool, he pointed out that UK content accounted for less than 20% of the 300MW Thanet wind farm, and allegedly less than 10% of the under construction 630 MW London Array.  

Browne is now Managing Director and Managing Partner (Europe) of private equity firm Riverstone Holdings LLC. He is also President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the industry is the battle for hearts and minds, he said.

At present the British public sees increased costs on electricity bills - due in part to the cost of offshore wind.

Moreover, the Committee on Climate Change recently advised the government to scale back its offshore wind ambitions. The message is that the technology is expensive, said Lord Browne. It is seen by consumers as "a luxury they cannot afford."

The British public needs to see benefits accrue to the UK from offshore wind - new factories, new jobs and economic growth, he said.

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