The UK government has been urged to seize an unrivalled opportunity at its fingertips to transform the Celtic Sea into a green energy powerhouse by harnessing the potential for floating offshore wind.
Tory MP Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire in south-west Wales, has called on ministers to take action to avoid Britain being “left behind” in the fast-moving global push towards renewables.
Speaking to MPs at a debate in Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament, he said floating wind would be “critical” to ensuring the Tory government meets its energy security targets.
He said it was difficult to see how the overall expansion of offshore wind envisaged by No 10 would be technically possible without doing floating wind energy “in a very big way”.
The Crown Estate last year said it would look to unlock the 4 gigawatts of energy from the Celtic Sea by 2035.
The body, which manages the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, wants to establish a new industrial sector in the UK.
If met, the target would be enough to provide electricity to up to four million households and lead to the creation of thousands of jobs.
It would also go a long way towards helping Britain to reach net zero by 2050, Mr Crabb said.
The MP said at present the country was “well positioned as the leading market place for investors” but issued a warning that unless steps were taken towards meeting goals, the UK was “likely to be left behind as other countries move to seize on the new technology”.
“Along with areas of the North Sea, the Celtic Sea — located off the coast of south-west Wales, Devon, Cornwall and southern Ireland — is one of those areas with the greatest potential for deploying flow and is currently attracting enormous interest from developers and investors,” he said.
“Floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea represents a multibillion pound economic development and investment opportunity for Wales, for south-west of England and the whole of the UK.
“The area has excellent wind resource, infrastructure and local industry for potential supply chain development.”
He also said if the UK did not fully recognise the green energy potential of its territories, overseas companies would move in and fill the vacuum.
Milford Haven and Port Talbot have been touted as potential anchor ports for floating offshore wind.
But without collaboration and significant investment in the sites over the coming years, “the vast majority of the potential £4 billion of benefits could simply go overseas”, he said.