Global offshore wind capacity is set to surge to over 234 GW by 2030, from 29.1 GW at the end of 2019, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). The GWEC forecasts that through 2030, more than 205 GW of new offshore wind capacity will be added globally, including at least 6.2 GW of floating offshore wind. With these projections, it is clear the sector is set to play a leading role in powering both the energy transition and a green recovery following the pandemic. Regions around the world are exploring how they can make the most of the new opportunities created through offshore wind. Global energy consultancy Xodus has led on several recent projects in Europe and the U.S., conducting comprehensive research into how areas can develop and grow local supply chains.
Local content and socio-economic benefit are often mooted as the likely boon that will arrive alongside renewable energy from offshore wind, but with the unrelenting pressure to drive down costs and deliver value to the consumer, how to pay for the required investment to deliver this is often an afterthought. When delivering a strategy for green growth, it is important for state and national governments to consider their priorities from the industry—making this decision early allows for an incentive system to be developed, which will encourage investment and nurture the local supply chain to grow with the industry.
When left with only a $/MWh KPI to consider, developers will default to using established supply chains, as this is easier, more efficient, and also cheaper at both a capex level and financing level. Using established suppliers with proven capabilities reduces risk on a project, and therefore reduces the overall cost of capital. Therefore, in order to disrupt these relationships, policymakers must consider the reasons for them—and how to best offset the costs, or if possible, mitigate them entirely.
Clustering increases efficiency. However, in some markets, these decisions have been made already—and developers are faced with narrow margins and increasing political pressure to deliver socio-economic benefits that a project can ill-afford. Xodus has, therefore, developed a specialist suite of
services to help both developers and new suppliers to maximize local content and minimize waste effort on procurement and communication. Clustering of both local suppliers, and projects and opportunities, allows for a more efficient use of resources when identifying qualified suppliers, as well as increasing visibility of development pipelines to encourage investment.
Regional project clusters can give large suppliers and OEMs the visibility they need to invest in localizing large elements of manufacturing and assembly. Each supplier will have its own metrics for decision-making, but generally, suppliers will look for a visible pipeline of between 3 GW and 5 GW before making a decision to localize supply—with the availability of investment support or incentive being a major factor as to which end of the spectrum will tip the scales. Supplier clusters create a clear space, where developers can access local companies with relevant competencies and capabilities, while also allowing companies to foster innovation and collaboration, in order to increase capability and capacity to deliver services to multi-billion dollar projects.
Headquartered in Aberdeen, Scotland, Xodus has been involved with renewables since its inception in 2005 and has played a key role in many milestones for offshore wind. As lead consultant in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for Equinor’s Hywind project, the company played a pivotal role in the creation of the environmental statement for the world’s first floating wind array. In recent years, Xodus has grown its renewables team around the world and has specialists across the sector focused on project engineering and development, energy yield analysis (EYA), permitting and consenting, and cables and interconnectors. Through this expertise, as well as access to insightful data, the company has positioned itself at the forefront of research into potential benefits to local supply chains.
Offshore Wind Cluster Builder. Earlier this year, Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s national economic development agency, appointed Xodus to the role of Offshore Wind Cluster Builder to develop and grow the offshore wind supply chain across the country. Xodus is supporting Scotland’s existing offshore wind clusters (Fig. 1.), DeepWind and Forth & Tay Offshore, in their remit to foster collaboration, drive competitiveness and improve productivity in Scottish offshore wind.