Britain could become a net exporter of renewable electricity by 2050 according to new research published last week.
Using one third of the country’s maximum renewable energy potential could result in surplus production, said management consultant Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
It said that a huge increase in construction of renewable energy capacity could result in output matching that of the North Sea oil and gas industry - the equivalent of 1bn barrels annually.
But to begin successfully generating surplus energy for export the UK must massively increase the construction of offshore wind farms, floating wind farms, marine energy, wave power and tidal schemes. BCG launched its findings at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen last week.
Experts warned that building on such a scale would depend on costs and the availability of skills.
“The key question is what building and maintaining these wind turbines and their associated energy-storage and delivery systems would cost”
“The key question is what building and maintaining these wind turbines and their associated energy-storage and delivery systems would cost, in material and financial terms,” said Department for Energy and Climate Change chief scientific adviser David MacKay.
Research from the European Union’s Pushing Offshore Wind Energy Regions group suggests skills shortages, inadequate training and the need for industry standards must be addressed if the sector is to move forward. It says more must be done to transfer skilled workers from the oil and gas sector to the renewable sector.
Renewables development agency Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) is investigating the options for transferring skills from the oil and gas sector to the offshore wind industry.
“The UK’s deep-rooted upstream oil and gas expertise puts it at a considerable advantage to harness the renewables market because it has infrastructure, transferable skills, research and all-important know-how,” said AREG chief operating officer Morag McCorkindale.
“Many oil and gas mechanisms such as recognised codes of practice, sharing of information and supply chain management are also transferable. It is vital that we capitalise on this and build as effective a supply chain in renewables as we have in oil and gas.”