More offshore wind out at sea means greater potential for economic opportunity and growth on land, writes Emma Toulson of Ørsted  


In a major milestone for renewables, wind power was Britain’s biggest source of electricity during the first three months of 2023.

For the first time ever, almost a third (32.4 percent) of Britain’s electricity was generated by wind power, outpacing gas, which delivered 31.7 percent, according to independent research from Imperial College London published by Drax Electrical Insights.

The achievement is not only a major step towards the decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity system, but it also shines a light on the growing role renewables are set to play in places like Scotland in the years to come.

More offshore wind out at sea means greater potential for economic opportunity and growth on land. That’s exactly what Ørsted, the world’s leading offshore wind developer, delivers: green energy and lasting positive community impacts.

We know from over 30 years of experience developing offshore wind projects that we only succeed if we create a socially sustainable business that brings extensive economic, social, and environmental benefits to the local communities we work in. That’s precisely what we aim to deliver with our projects in Scotland. 


Four pillars

Our ambition is to help foster thriving communities that can share the benefits of the green transition through skills training and long-term job opportunities.

That’s why as we develop more offshore wind farms in places like Scotland, we focus on four pillars: the supply chain, people, infrastructure, and innovation.

As the renewable industry grows, the supply chain meets market demand by both growing locally and with new companies coming in from elsewhere to join the expanding industry. Both spur local economic growth and job creation.

We see one of our roles as helping local communities take full advantage of the employment opportunities that are presented to them.

That’s why we invest in the future of the local communities where we construct and operate our projects through our community benefit funds, educational outreach, apprenticeships, and jobs training.  

Across the UK we promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) through our partnerships with both national and regional training and educational institutions.

For example, we have partnered with the Grimsby Institute and Furness College to deliver a three-year offshore wind turbine technician apprenticeship programme in Grimsby on the UK’s East Coast and Barrow-in-Furness on the West Coast.

We also help prepare young people for green jobs through our partnerships with University Technical Colleges, the educational charity Teach First, and the social enterprise Stemettes.

We’re focused on building not just our own talent pipeline, but the larger renewable industry pipeline – especially in places like Scotland.

We’re supporters of the PowerHouse, a new offshore renewables skills and innovation hub in the Scottish Highlands that’s focused on developing the skills needed to work in the floating offshore wind and green hydrogen industries. We also work with the charity TechFest based in the northeast of Scotland. We are sponsoring their STEM Next project, a competition that challenges 16–18-year-old students to research and write an essay themed around energy, medicine, or science.

We also support the development of local infrastructure – from investing in ports to quaysides and other enabling structures needed to grow the industry.

In addition, we support communities with bids to local government authorities for regeneration projects and new facilities within the towns where we operate through our three Community Benefit Funds. And in Grimsby, we have invested £1 million to support the construction of the Horizon Youth Zone, a dedicated facility for young people that is a key piece of the town’s regeneration plan.

Finally, we focus on innovation and creating centres of excellence around our expertise. For example, our West Coast Hub in Barrow-in-Furness and our East Coast Hub in Grimsby are incubators of offshore wind knowledge.

With decades of experience developing, constructing, operating, and maintaining offshore wind farms, our team in Barrow are some of the most experienced offshore wind turbine technicians in the world. We constantly tap into that know-how as we expand from the US to Taiwan.


The OnSide Horizon Youth Zone’s Young People Development group give a presentation to Ørsted’s CEO and Board of Directors 



Good neighbours

Over the years, we’ve learned that the four pillars – the supply chain, people, infrastructure, and innovation – are all intrinsically interlinked and that we need to focus on all of them from the get-go for any project to succeed. 

When we enter a new market or region, we know we’ll be there for the long haul. Offshore wind farms can take up to a decade to develop and construct before they even begin to produce power; and then most offshore wind farms are in operation for about 25 - 30 years.

Knowing that we are entering into a multi-decade relationship with a community when we begin a new project, we work as closely as we can with the local communities every step of the way.

Our ambition is to become integrated in the place. We are the community as much as we’re in the community.


Investing in jobs & green energy

Our East Coast Hub in Grimsby is an exemplar of this model in action. About 75 percent of our work force in Grimsby come from within a one-hour drive to site, this includes those who work further offshore and only commute once bi-weekly.

Over the course of the last decade, we’ve worked with the people, businesses, and government agencies of the Humber to collectively revitalise the local economy and directly invested or enabled investment of £9.5 billion off the coast of the Humber.

We’ve also grown local businesses and trained skilled workers for the green economy by directly investing £45 million into the local community, education, and skills development.

And all of that green investment is helping the UK realise its ambitious net-zero goals.

Our project Hornsea 2, the world’s largest wind farm, started generating power last August and is operated and maintained out of our East Coast Hub.

With a total capacity of 1. 3 GW – enough to power over 1.4 million UK homes with green, renewable, electricity – Hornsea 2’s contribution to the National Grid is significant and helped push wind power generation over the line and ahead of gas at the start of this year. 


We’re just getting started

While we’ve come so far on the journey to net-zero, we’re just getting started.

We’re excited to collaborate with the local Scottish communities where our new projects are to help realise the economic, social, and environmental benefits of the green transition right here.

Beginning with Salamander, our innovative 100 MW floating offshore wind joint venture project off the northeast coast of Scotland, we are creating the building blocks of a global industry.

That stepping-stone project will help us develop our other major floating project in Scotland – the 1 GW Stromar project.

The lessons learned, supply chains developed, and relationships built from Salamander will help us deliver Stromar – and the benefits of floating offshore wind on an industrial scale.

More importantly, these projects will deliver more than green energy – they will also deliver lasting positive community impacts.


Emma Toulson is Ørsted’s Lead UK Stakeholder Relations Advisor.