14 Feb 2024
by Dr Sam Andrews

Long-term planning needed for offshore renewables

With ocean temperatures reaching record highs, Dr Mark Calverley, director of Blue Ocean Consulting and chair of the IMarEST Offshore Renewables Special Interest Group (ORSIG), reflects on the many challenges facing the offshore renewables sector. 

Last year, the UK’s plans for offshore windfarm development hit a serious snag when the auction which awards contracts failed to attract a single bid. 

The reasons: a combination of government failure to account for inflation and the maximum price developers were allowed to bid at being set too low for development to be viable. “It was a big hiccup, but the UK government have addressed those failings for [this year’s] round,” explains Calverley.  

Renewable energy is likely to play a crucial role in tackling the climate crisis, and offshore wind could deliver a substantial amount of clean energy. “The [UK] government is moving in the right direction, but there are some key issues. One of those issues relates to ‘flip-flopping on certain policies’.  

“We need longevity in these policies, and we need investment that won’t be affected by the colour of the party in power.” 

While Calverley would like those funds to support research and development of the offshore renewables industry and other solutions, he notes that it is on land that some of the biggest changes need to occur. 

“The whole network piece is a key bottleneck. A good example is perhaps in Pembrokeshire. You have all this energy coming to a beach, but there’s nothing to bring the energy to the users,” he notes. 

Invisible opportunities 

“The number of people who need to enter the sector, it’s massive,” says Calverley. “It’s not just engineers and meteorology and oceanography (metocean) people, there’s a whole breadth of people who are needed; legal and health and safety, for example.” 

The problem, Calverley says, is that students aren’t necessarily aware that opportunities in the offshore renewable sector exist. Recalling attending a career fair with his daughter, Calverley asked if there was anything on the marine sector. “They said no and then asked, ‘What is the marine sector?’”  

Calverley says enhancing the visibility of opportunities requires action from both government and the industry itself. 

The renewables SIG is working to promote the sector to emerging talent. For example, they supported the development of Offshore Wind Learning, an IMarEST-affiliated online course developed by Alastair Dutton and Chris Lloyd, designed to give a foundational understanding of the industry. 

They are also creating a careers matrix that offers an overview of the various roles required, what they entail, and what key skills and experiences are necessary. 

Looking forward to 2024 

Alongside the careers matrix, the SIG is working on other ways to support the sector. Together with the Operational Oceanography SIG, they are updating the Metocean Procedures Guide. 

“This is the third iteration and takes a more global view of metocean issues as the market has expanded,” says Calverley. On a more interactive front, SIG members can expect to see more webinars covering different aspects of the offshore renewables sector. “We are also open to having students present their work.” 

In addition, Calverley is keen to welcome more people into the SIG working in a diverse group of sectors. 

“We’re also looking for more people to join the committee, particularly those with expertise in the maritime side, such as those who might operate vessels in offshore renewables or design vessels,” he explains. 

Finally, the SIG has an opening for a co-chair after Alice Goward Brown stepped down at the end of last year due to increasing responsibility in her day job. 


Discover more about the ORSIG and how to join. You can also email Mark directly at [email protected] if you are interested in becoming a co-chair. 

Main image: Earth landmass and water surface warming; credit: Shutterstock