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Rystad: Offshore Wind Hiring Wave Coming

Mike Schuler
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February 23, 2021

A hiring wave is expected to hit the offshore wind sector as demand for offshore wind staff is expected to surge by the end of the decade, according to new research by Rystad Energy.

The Norway-based independent energy research firm estimates that offshore wind installed capacity could rise to 110 gigawatts (GW) by 2025 and 250 GW by 2030, requiring a number of skilled employees.

According to Rystad, the demand for offshore wind staff will triple by the end of the decade, surging to 868,000 full-time jobs from an estimated 297,000 in 2020. In fact, the hiring spree will already be visible in the middle of the decade, as jobs demand could reach about 589,000 in 2025.

Rystad looked at both direct jobs (related to development manufacturing, construction, installation, and the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms) and indirect jobs (related to materials and services consumed, such as workers in steel plants supporting offshore wind turbines, electronics workers at companies supplying nacelle components, and staff of renewable energy regulatory institutions).

Construction and development (C&D) jobs are expected to account for most of the employment over the next decade, although its share of the total employment will decrease leading up to 2030. Operation and maintenance (O&M) jobs, contributing about 7% of the total offshore wind job count in 2020, will increase to about 12% in 2025. These jobs are expected to gain a larger share of total jobs as there is a rapid increase in offshore wind installed capacity.

“C&D roles will still dominate, however, because a typical offshore wind farm spends 60-70% of its capex in the lead-up to its commissioning, which takes between one and three years,” says Rystad.

Rystad estimates that Europe, Asia outside of China, and the Americas will drive the global jobs creation in the offshore wind sector.

“Europe, which dominates the offshore wind installed capacity globally, could expect to see demand for jobs more than triple by 2030, from 110,000 jobs in 2020 to around 350,000,” says Rystad. “The expected growth will be especially noticeable over the next five years, as annual capacity additions in the region are increasing and the installed base is growing.

“Asia, excluding China, will see a major jobs boost, most noticeable in the second half of this decade, as South Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan are expected to contribute significant offshore wind capacity. China, meanwhile, could see demand for jobs stagnate towards 2030, despite the current activity ramp-up.

“In the Americas, the US will be a major driver for offshore wind deployment because of the ambitious plans to decarbonize the power sector by 50% by 2030 put forward by the current Democratic administration. We estimate that the US will have almost 15 GW of offshore wind installed capacity by 2030, with 30% coming from recent solicitations held by New York State. As we move towards 2030, demand for jobs is expected to be lifted further by other countries in the region, especially Brazil, which has several large projects expected to be commissioned around the turn of the decade.”

Offshore oil and gas workers could benefit from some the work, due to the similar skill sets and training requirements. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused employment rates in the oil and gas industry to plummet, and Rystad believes that employment in this area will never return to the levels that we saw just a few years ago. Rystad notes that offshore wind could be a great opportunity to recover some of the talent lost during the oil and gas industry downturn, especially O&M, project development and engineering jobs.

“Oil and gas workers will also benefit from this expected growth in offshore wind employment globally, as they share some skills sets and essential offshore knowledge. Offshore wind areas such as foundation manufacturing, offshore construction, project development, and O&M have been highly relevant to oil and gas operations,“ says Alexander Fløtre, Rystad Energy’s Product Manager for Offshore Wind.

More of Rystad Energy’s research can be found here.

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