Quaybridge Global Showcase helps UK firms benefit from the offshore wind industry
The UK and Scottish governments are fully committed to the development of the UK offshore wind industry. Through the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, and Boris Johnson’s more recent announcements, the government has suggested a marketplace for 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 is viable. As part of this deal, the UK offshore wind industry is committed to ensuring that 60% of money spent on UK wind farm projects goes to UK firms. An aspect that is often overlooked, however, is a commitment to increase the UK’s export of supplies and services to the global offshore wind industry five-fold (to £2.6 billion) by 2030.
There is a general opinion that supporting the growth of UK companies for UK projects will naturally lead to export opportunities. This is to some extent true. We need globally competitive UK products and services to export. But we also believe that developers, particularly those with international portfolios, can play a critical role in creating overseas opportunities for UK companies. The UK benefits from supporting export from offshore wind as it brings direct overseas spend into the UK. It also allows UK companies to build experience and capabilities, justifying investment for expansion of the UK operations and allowing companies to be more competitive within the UK market.
Quaybridge takes the initiative
We have taken the initiative with a project targeted squarely at helping Scottish businesses get a foot in the door – the Quaybridge Global Showcase Programme.
We have formed a partnership with a major European wind farm company, for development within the Scotwind leasing round. A powerful partnership for Quaybridge, but also an opportunity to raise the visibility of Scottish companies within mainland Europe, and to create direct opportunities for Scottish companies on our partner’s planned and existing portfolio of offshore wind farms. In Autumn 2020, we rolled out our Global Showcase pilot programme. We identified and put forward the best and brightest of Scottish firms to be considered for roles within our partner’s global supply chain.
A two-way conversation
With the help of Scottish supply chain expert Alan Duncan, we put together a list of over 160 prospective Scottish suppliers and shared this with our European partner. Once our partner had narrowed this list down to around 15 high potential suppliers, we arranged a series of ‘blind date’ style meetings, throughout Autumn 2020. These generated successful and productive, two-way conversations between the parties involved. The very first meeting proved the initiative successful when a representative of the European wind farm company commented to the prospective supplier: “Fantastic – we didn’t realise you had all those capabilities – we want to start using you now." Of the 15 companies showcased, over half have now been invited to join our partner’s global supplier database, for consideration for upcoming tendering opportunities.
The response from suppliers was equally positive. One participant commented: “Quaybridge's project partner normally only deals with tier one contractors, so it is hard for us to get direct access to them. Now they know exactly what capabilities we have that we could provide directly. And we have gained insight into developer requirements, helping us to refine our strategic plans. In concrete terms, we have been invited to pre-qualify as a supplier so that we can provide services to the partner as soon as the opportunity arises. The Showcase programme is a practical example of how an aspirational target, such as increasing UK exports of supplies and services to the global offshore wind industry, can be achieved in reality.”
A second Scottish showcase participant commented: “This supply chain initiative greatly assists organisations like ours to transition from oil and gas into renewables. Without this direct support, accessing key decision makers within offshore developers is much more challenging.”
An unmissable opportunity for Scottish firms
Scottish firms have a huge range of expertise that they can bring to the table to contribute to the whole lifecycle of a wind farm. Products and services include surveying, steelworks, boat operators and more.
The Quaybridge Global Showcase is about getting Scottish firms recognised for their expertise and contracted to deliver their goods and services to international offshore wind projects today. It is also about helping the global wind industry to access some of the best, most innovative and dedicated businesses in the offshore wind sector. Without a means for introduction, many businesses are overlooked simply because they are not on the procurement list and are not visible to established large players in the market. While there are no guarantees that local firms will get the work, our Global Showcase is a really big opportunity for Scottish businesses.
What the future holds
The development of offshore wind is hugely exciting, both for its contribution to the UK economy and for its potential to help reduce carbon emissions. By providing international opportunities today for the Scottish supply chain, we are giving companies a clear head start to secure contracts for the next tranche of Scottish offshore wind farms and are supporting the government’s export and UK content targets.
We are very excited about the progress already made during the pilot phase of this programme and we’re already planning more Global Showcases on a range of topics from O&M to floating wind. We believe and hope our Global Showcase Programme, combined with our Slipstream supply chain and innovation company support programme, can provide a strong tool for future development of the Scottish and wider UK supply chain.