The offshore industry between euphoria, consolidation and Brexit
London is a place that never sleeps. Every day, the media report fresh events in the British capital - good as well as terrible. During the conference at London's ExCel centre, tensions caused by the House of Commons elections on the last conference day were palpable all over the city.
The venue was well chosen since the direction of the future UK government will have a major impact on the European offshore industry, both in terms of stable planning conditions and the size of the future offshore wind market. Numerous smaller issues combine in one big question: Where will things go from here? Will the UK go ahead with the construction of the extravagantly expensive Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant? Which role will offshore wind energy play in the future energy supply of the British isles? And not least: What specific form will Brexit take?
So far, we only know that the UK's departure from the EU is unlikely to have a positive impact on the overall situation of the offshore industry. If the UK leaves the Single Market, substantial customs duties will affect supply chains. If the value of the Pound Sterling falls, will production in the UK become cheaper? Where will the products be sold? A cross-border electricity transfer network in the North Sea cannot be planned until it is clear how the UK will proceed in terms of the European Single Market. Valuable time is being lost. One of Germany's dreams could soon disappear: If companies left Britain and settled in Germany, they would be harshly pushed to sell their products in the UK.
Despite all this insecurity, the industry itself had some good news to report. The 0-cent results of the tenders for offshore wind farms in Germany, which removed the last argument against offshore wind energy, provoked a wave of euphoria. The WindEurope umbrella association and all stakeholders had been tireless in their efforts to advertise a significant expansion of wind energy all over Europe. These efforts are definitely needed since suppliers that failed to prevail in the auctions were conspicuously absent. Among them are a number of turbine manufacturers and suppliers which had still been present at previous events. The trend towards consolidation is obvious.
Ultimately, it can be confirmed that the offshore wind industry is still developing at a rapid pace. Hence, a variety of changes awaits us in the coming two years until the next Offshore Wind Energy conference in Copenhagen ... and the Brexit negotiations are set to be completed in 2019.