£50m fund set up to accelerate South West offshore wind industry


The UK’s offshore wind industry is set to benefit from increased early-stage investment in its supply chain through the launch of The Crown Estate’s innovative Supply Chain Accelerator.

The accelerator is a new £50m fund created to accelerate and de-risk the early-stage development of projects linked to offshore wind, helping to grow and nurture the UK’s domestic supply chain.

An initial £10m round of funding is now open for Expressions of Interest for businesses looking to establish UK projects that could support the development of a new UK supply chain capability for floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea.

Earlier this year, The Crown Estate published research, The Celtic Sea Blueprint, which predicted that 5,300 jobs and a £1.4bn economic boost could be generated through deploying the first floating offshore wind capacity, that will result from the current Leasing Round 5 process, in the waters off South Wales and South-West England.

This research highlighted a number of opportunities for supply chain development essential for the development of these floating wind farms including: floating platform components; dynamic cables and connections; wet storage infrastructure and facilities; operations and management infrastructure and facilities; and skills transition facilities.

The accelerator’s first £10m funding round will be geared towards projects specifically looking to address some of these opportunities, helping to kick-start projects by providing matched funding of up to £1m for early-stage development expenditure. The Crown Estate will look for the option to participate in the capital investment phase.

The application process opens formally in mid-June and closes at the end of July. Successful projects will be chosen following an application assessment process and announced from October 2024. The Crown Estate will be supported by leading professional services firm Grant Thornton.

The Crown Estate’s role is to create long-term value for the country, and it focuses on using the land and seabed it manages to help catalyse net zero, restore nature, create thriving communities and drive economic growth. Developing the offshore wind industry’s domestic supply chain through collaboration with industry and government partners forms a vital component of these ambitions.

Following the deployment of the first £10m round of funding, a further £40m has been earmarked that could potentially be deployed to support UK projects that meet the opportunities identified by the Industrial Growth Plan which was launched by RenewableUK and industry partners including The Crown Estate last month, setting out the actions required to triple offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next ten years.

The UK is already a global leader in offshore wind, and the pipeline grew by 10GW in 2023 to 93GW, with the sector producing 49TWh of electricity last year, according to The Crown Estate’s recently published UK Offshore Wind Report 2023.

The government estimates that 125GW could be needed by 2050 to meet net zero, hence investment in the UK’s supply chain is crucial if the industry is to remain competitive in the face of global efforts to decarbonise energy networks.

Will Apps, offshore wind strategy director at The Crown Estate, said: “We’re delighted to launch our Supply Chain Accelerator which will catalyse early-stage project development and maximise the opportunities identified in the Celtic Sea Blueprint. Investing in our domestic supply chain will enable the UK to remain a world leader in offshore wind whilst creating jobs and economic growth in communities local to these transformative projects.

“I’d encourage businesses with strong development plans and an ambition to support one of the UK’s most future-thinking sectors to consider submitting proposals to the Accelerator for funding, and play an important part in the UK’s exciting energy transition.”

Gus Jaspert, managing director, marine at The Crown Estate, said: “Offshore wind not only plays a key part in our energy transition, it can also be a key part of a local and national regeneration with new jobs, skills and industry.   Our world-leading offshore wind industry is already playing a pivotal role in the UK’s energy transition but and demand will only increase as we move towards delivering a net zero economy by 2050. We must move further and faster to invest in and develop the UK’s supply chain to accelerate growth and make our offshore wind sector the most attractive globally.

“The Supply Chain Accelerator will enable investment in priority capabilities and skills to aid the delivery of the opportunities within the Celtic Sea Blueprint, driving economic growth regionally for the benefit of the UK as a whole and ensuring we are driving value onshore through offshore activity.”