RGU study shows UK running out of options for offshore energy ‘just transition’

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A study by Robert Gordon University has shown the UK will fail to achieve a “just and fair” transition by 2030 unless there is urgent alignment across the political spectrum.

Experts analysed more than 6,560 pathways for the industry between now and 2030, concluding that political decisions rather than market forces will influence the size of the workforce.

Of the thousands of scenarios analysed, less than 0.3% could be considered a “just and fair” transition, their report found.

Professor Paul de Leeuw said Scotland would be disproportionately impacted with changes in the offshore workforce and supply chain, as a high number of offshore jobs are concentrated around Aberdeen.

Underlining the scale of the challenge, he said that in order for the workforce to be sustained at current levels of just over 150,000 in 2030, the installation of new offshore turbines would need to increase to roughly one per day.

In addition, the UK would need to continue extracting around 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

The total installed capacity of offshore wind generation would need to increase to around 40GW, up from 15GW at the end of 2023.

Oil and gas production is currently expected to decline by around 40% by 2030.

Prof de Leeuw said: “The UK still has a unique opportunity to create a new energy future.

“Accelerating the re-purposing of the North Sea as a world-class, multi-energy basin will ensure the sector can power the country for decades to come. The prize for the UK to get this right is enormous.

“But to deliver this requires action and urgency, which means faster planning and consenting and access to the grid.”

Scotland’s Net Zero and Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan said: “Scotland’s energy transition presents an era-defining opportunity for our economy and people: delivering on our climate obligations, safeguarding our energy security and ensuring a fair and just energy transition for our workforces and the communities they support.

“By working together, with absolute clarity of purpose, we will unlock the vast potential. Indeed, the transition is already happening with Scotland fast becoming a renewables powerhouse.

“The Scottish Government is determined to play its role in maximising these benefits – and negotiating the challenges – not least through the publication of our Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, which will set out our vision for a future energy system that delivers affordable, secure, clean energy and delivers economic benefits to every part of the country.”

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