As a values driven business investing in and managing some of the UK’s most important assets, The Crown Estate works to ensure the UK’s resources are sustainably worked, developed and enjoyed to deliver the best value over the long term. The company plays a major role in the development of offshore wind energy in the UK. They not only manage the UK seabed out to a 12 nautical mile territory, but also have the necessary rights to develop renewable energy inside the allotted energy zone.
The burgeoning offshore wind industry is set to have a major impact on the UK’s manufacturing sector, bringing significant new inward investment, businesses and jobs. To support the industry in delivering its full potential, The Crown Estate is taking a proactive approach. From engaging with statutory and non-statutory bodies, regulators, trade associations, local and national governments, and representatives of the shipping, aviation and fisheries industries, to holding supply chain events for offshore wind, wave and tidal projects, they are helping to push the industry in a positive direction.
John Hyde, Helitech International’s Exhibition Director, spoke with Matthew Clear, Senior Development Manager at The Crown Estate, to discuss the changing landscape of offshore energy and the impact this has on the rotorcraft industry.
Q: How has the increase in offshore oil & gas projects impacted the rotorcraft industry?
MC: We are certainly seeing an increase in the number of offshore projects undertaken, which provides a great opportunity for the rotorcraft sector. With a large proportion of the world’s wind turbines located in UK water, the strategic deployment of helicopters in the construction, operations and maintenance strategies of further offshore projects can contribute to a reduction in down time, due to unplanned maintenance, cost and operational risk.
Q: Do you think the next five years will see helicopter operations in the oil & gas sector grow to pre-decline levels?
MC: I think it’s important to remember that the potential use of helicopters to service offshore renewables is absolutely growing. Of course, as more offshore wind projects locate further offshore, there is a huge opportunity for growth for the rotorcraft sector over the next five years. As it stands, around half of the world’s offshore turbines are located in UK waters. Offshore wind is already meeting around five percent of the UK’s electrical demand and is on course to meet 10 percent by 2020. As this demand increases the potential for helicopter use in this field also grows. Therefore, offering other possible avenues to allow the industry to recover from the pre-decline levels.
Q: Do you feel the rotorcraft industry has a proactive role to play in this recovery?
MC: Yes, I would say there is a need to respond more proactively to aviation-related matters. This is something The Crown Estate is aware of, so we are working with the industry to develop and publish high level guidance. The aim of this is to provide a framework for the industry, to allow it to plan ahead with regards to both strategic and operational issues. We also hope to enable effective engagement with stakeholders to address any broader policy, regulatory, safety and technical matters, as well as project level issues.