OWE 2017: Confident industry looks foward to strong growth

UK: Industry figures at this afternoon's (6 June) Offshore Wind Market Outlook panel in London were united in foreseeing a buoyant future for the sector, as it sat "on the cusp of an energy transformation".

Nick Gardiner: Offshore wind is now part of the UK's industrial strategy

Citing the amount of capital being invested, cost reductions and offshore wind becoming "the backbone of a decarbonised electricity system", Jonathan Cole, chair of ScottishPower Renewables' UK offshore programme board, said the industry stood at a "pivotal moment" and its future looked "incredibly bright".

Nick Gardiner, managing director for UK offshore wind at the Green Investment Bank, was similarly buoyant. "Offshore wind is now part of the UK's industrial strategy, so there's a very strong growth story", he said.

And beyond the established markets in the UK and Europe, the prospects for growth in the US and Asia were also good, he added. In particular, growing interest in floating wind technologies had "the potential to globalise the industry".

A lowering of costs had been the major determinant of the growth story to date and technological advances have attracted new investors to the market, Gardiner said. Institutional investors in particular were now "increasingly comfortable" with the offshore wind sector.

Sebastien Brunel, commercial operations leader for offshore wind at GE Renewable Energy, added that offshore wind has moved away from being a niche market and has become a mainstream one.

And despite the political rhetoric in the US, Brunel said he sees "real momentum" for offshore wind in the country. "We're here for the long term," he said, a sentiment echoed by Gardiner.

Looking ahead, Cole said that the single largest contribution to lowering costs would again be in the turbines, which would increase in scale to 12-15MW. Economies of scale, competition and lower operations and maintenance costs would also help to drive costs down further, he added.