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Government must transform UK ports to boost floating offshore wind, report says

The Government needs to transform up to 11 ports around the UK to enable the roll-out of floating offshore wind at scale, according to a new report.

The Floating Offshore Wind Taskforce – which includes the UK and devolved Governments, renewable trade associations and major offshore wind and port developers – said up to 34 gigawatts could be installed by 2040 if the Government takes swift action.

They said ministers should improve their ambitions to install five gigawatts by 2030 and push the UK to become a global leader in the industry.

The Taskforce called on the Government to invest £4 billion, calculating that every £1 invested in UK port facilities would generate up to £4.30 of added value to the economy.

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Floating wind farms function in the same way as traditional offshore turbines but they are instead attached to floating platforms that are tied to the seabed with anchors.

This means they can be built further out to sea where the wind is stronger and provides more energy.

On Monday the Welsh Government announced its consent to allow an offshore wind farm to be built in the Celtic Sea which it hopes will transform the region into a clean energy superpower.

Scotland already has a floating wind farm off the coast of Kincardine and there are plans for more off the north Highland coast.

The Climate Change Committee said in a recent report that offshore wind should form the vast majority of Britain’s electricity production in a decarbonised power system, which it said was possible to achieve by 2035 if the Government removes barriers around consent and planning.

Laurie Heyworth, emerging technologies policy analyst at RenewableUK, said: “Getting onto the front foot to make the most of our enormous floating wind resource is essential to boost Britain’s energy security and deliver net zero as fast as possible.

“At the moment there are no port facilities in this country which are fit for the mass deployment of floating wind, so we need to start revitalising them now as new industrial hubs so that we’re ready for this new sector to take off at scale by 2030.

“The timeline is tight and we will only be able to deliver on our ambition if we take action promptly and decisively.”

The Taskforce said that, to scale up, the Government should invest £4 billion in developing ports, which would enable 150-metre turbines and their giant floating bases to be manufactured and assembled on the coast.

They said a minimum of three to five ports will be needed in Scotland to install turbines onto floating bases and another two are needed in the Celtic Sea.

A further four other UK ports need revitalising for manufacturing the steel and concrete needed for the foundations, with more ships and bigger cranes required for construction, the authors added.

The report also said that implementing recommendations required to reach 34 gigawatts of floating wind power by 2040 would generate £26.6 billion in economic productivity, creating 45,000 jobs across the country.

Nicola Clay, head of new ventures at the Crown Estate said: “There is a huge opportunity for the UK to show international leadership in the race to deploy this new technology at scale.

“However, it is clear from our own dialogue with developers and ports that this must go hand-in-hand with the rapid establishment of a new supply chain and upgrading ports.

“This will require collaboration, confidence and investment by all involved if the UK is to build the foundations for this industry to truly thrive and realise the full range of benefits on offer.”