Offshore Wind Is Transforming The UK's Coastal Towns


It’s no secret that British seaside towns have had a tough time in recent years. With large ...

Lauren McGuire

By Lauren McGuire

It’s no secret that British seaside towns have had a tough time in recent years. With large ports no longer operating at full capacity, they have been left relying on tourism to grow their economy. However, some coastal towns are now showing signs of recovery as offshore wind farms have grown in popularity, bringing with them a fresh wave of engineering job opportunities.

Offshore Wind Gaining Popularity with Energy Providers

In 2018, 409 new offshore wind turbines were connected in Europe alone, according to Wind Europe, totalling to an installed offshore wind capacity of 18,499 Mega-Watts. The UK accounts for over one-third of the total European offshore wind potential and is a world leader – with more capacity installed than any other nation in the world. 

At the start of May, the National Grid confirmed that the UK’s power grid operated for more than 7 days without any domestic coal generation and this is all down to the huge investments in renewable power.

UK offshore wind is already generating enough electricity to power more than seven million homes and this comes following the government’s new industrial strategy surrounding clean growth, with an emphasis on growing modern industries such as renewables. With this growth comes huge infrastructure investments that are transforming the UK’s coastal towns from empty ports to bustling industry and with that, thousands of skilled job opportunities

Grimsby - a Global Leader for Offshore Wind 

In recent years Grimsby, a large coastal seaport in the North East of England, has been revitalised into one of the world’s leading locations for offshore wind operations and maintenance.

In the mid-20th century, Grimsby possessed the largest fishing fleet in the world, but the fishing industry has suffered from post-industrial decline.

However, offshore wind farms have truly recharged this region, bringing back business, industry and the need for skilled workers, and this is set to continue for decades to come. Grimsby has more port capacity than any other coastal town in the UK and is located near one of the world’s largest areas of shallow water, making it well suited to offshore wind farms. In March 2019, the offshore wind sector deal between the government and the offshore wind industry was released which promises to boost productivity in the UK supply chain and triple jobs in the sector before 2030; meaning Grimsby’s port could become one of the UK's busiest once again. 

Aberdeen - Home to the World's Most Powerful Wind Turbines 

Aberdeen, with its long sandy coastline, has a rich history with traditional industries such as fishing and shipbuilding. Its seaport is the largest in North East Scotland and circa 1960, Aberdeen was a busy fishing port that not only facilitated fishing but also built the vessels needed. But nowadays, similar to Grimsby, Aberdeen has had to search for economic growth in other industries.

Traditional industries like fishing and ship-building have been taken over by the oil and gas industry, with several offshore oil projects commencing since the mid-20th century, earning Aberdeen the reputation of the ‘Oil Capital of Europe’.

But Scotland is seeking to earn the title of ‘Energy Capital of Europe’ with huge investments in offshore wind that arguably, the oil and gas industry paved the way for. In September of last year, Aberdeen celebrated the official opening of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen bay – which is home to the world’s most powerful wind turbines. This project has the capacity to power almost 80,000 homes and is the latest in a stream of achievements in renewable energy for Scotland.

This new investment is bringing fresh energy job opportunities for skilled workers to enhance their careers and it is set to continue as Scotland sets the target for generating 100% of their electricity demand from renewables by 2020. 

Great Yarmouth - From Seaside Resort to Offshore Wind Hub

Great Yarmouth, a seaside resort located in Norfolk, east England, tells a similar story. Its economy has evolved from the fishing industry to rely heavily on tourism, specifically onshore attractions and arcades, and after riding the highs and lows, they have found themselves at the centre of a renewables revolution.  

Offshore wind turbines have not only brought new life to the town through industrial investment and wind-related job opportunities but they have permanently changed the landscape. Scroby Sands wind farm is only 2.5 kilometres off the coast and can be seen on a clear day from the beachfront. The farm consists of 30 wind turbines that produce enough power to supply 41,000 households.  In itself, it has become quite the tourist attraction, with an information centre that serves around 35,000 visitors per year.

The Shallow waters and consistent winds of Great Yarmouth have attracted £11billion worth of investments already, with £22billion worth of projects in the pipeline. These new projects are set to dwarf the current Scroby sands, with a planned turbine height of over 180 metres, generating approximately 6000 job roles. 

Meeting Staffing Needs to Support Offshore Wind Growth

It is predicted that by 2030, the UK will receive a third of its electricity from offshore wind, meaning stories like Grimsby’s, Aberdeen’s and Great Yarmouth will be reflected across the nation.

Hull is also amongst the success stories after Siemens invested £160 million into a wind turbine production and installation facility based at Alexandra Dock. Combined with ABP’s investments, this project created 1000 jobs directly with additional roles needed for construction and indirectly in the supply chain.

Over the last ten years, the average offshore wind farm has increased in size from 79.6 MW in 2007 to 561 MW in 2018. To facilitate this rapid growth, at least 27,000 skilled job roles will be created by 2030. At NES we are supporting clients and candidates alike. Our dedicated discipline-specific consultants can support all stages of your offshore wind project.

NES Fircroft and Offshore Wind

NES Fircroft is an experienced staffing provider and we are currently solving staffing challenges for our clients all across the globe. If you have a renewable energy staffing requirement, get in touch with our experts  today. We are already working on some of the world’s most exciting renewables projects and we’re experts at finding the right placements for the right candidates. From solar power to wind farms, we have plenty of renewables job opportunities for skilled engineers looking to enhance their career.