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Skills and supply chain twin drivers for offshore wind success

European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen Bay.
European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen Bay.

The era of offshore wind is here and an innovative new project based in Aberdeen is aimed at tackling the skills gap faced by the nascent industry.

X-Academy is billed as a world-first transition skills initiative, charged with focusing today’s bright minds on solving real life climate change energy issues.

Led by Granite City consultancy Xodus Group, with support from BP and German company EnBW, it will offer training opportunities for hundreds of people to work directly on initiatives to reduce emissions and accelerate efforts towards net-zero.

The initiative is especially vital following the ScotWind offshore wind leasing announcements earlier this year.

Strong message

Confirmation 17 projects had been successful in securing option agreements with a combined capacity of 25 gigawatts threw out a strong message of what can be achieved in the transition to Scotland’s renewable energy future.

X Academy managing director Peter Tipler said: “Hot on the heels of that came Crown Estate Scotland’s announcement it has launched a new offshore wind leasing round for innovation and targeted oil and gas (Intog) projects.

“Open to both small-scale innovation and larger projects linked to oil and gas infrastructure which will help decarbonise North Sea assets, Intog will encourage and support the ongoing development of offshore wind technology in Scottish waters.”

Peter Tipler, X-Academy’s managing director.

Xodus has been at the forefront of driving the move towards a renewable future for many years.

Scott Hamilton, head of Offshore Renewables, Xodus, said: “We cut our teeth in the infancy of floating offshore wind.

“That expertise came to the fore during the ScotWind leasing round, when we were involved in supporting multiple successful bidders.”

“We are well-placed to understand and respond to the challenges which this fast-emerging sector must address if it is to meet the very ambitious but very achievable targets that have been set.”

Scott Hamilton, head of offshore renewables, Xodus Group.

Mr Hamilton added: “Two key game-changers will be the development of a strong local supply chain which can deliver these projects, and the building of a skilled and motivated workforce with the passion to drive change.”

Mt Tipler, who is also Xodus’ sales and marketing director, continued: “The first of these will need investment to deliver the incentive to grow the local supply chain and secure its long-term sustainable future.

“The second of these game-changers will need investment in people.”

New mindsets

Skills required in the future will inevitably differ from those readily available in the present.

X-Academy – launched with the help of the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund – is as much about changing mindsets as people’s skillsets, allowing people to learn in a new way.

Mr Tipler added: “It will focus on such things as how we can maximise offshore production, while reducing emissions, and how we can enable emerging technologies, provide advice on renewable developments and support gaps in the local supply chain.”

“Collaboration across the industry is key, and working together to solve shared challenges and problems – combining resources, expertise and ambition – will lead to quicker and more efficient solutions.”

Mr Hamilton said: “The global emergence of floating wind as a source of renewable energy has opened the door to a wave of multibillion-pound opportunities.

“This is a fast-moving, highly-competitive market with a hunger for new technologies, new skills and new ambition alongside a slew of challenges which must be addressed.

“If every company operates in a silo, only looking through the lens of how they operate as a business on a day-to-day basis, we’ll never solve the wider issues.

“Collaboration across the industry is key, and working together to solve shared challenges and problems – combining resources, expertise and ambition – will lead to quicker and more efficient solutions.”

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