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Robotics to play vital role in renewables expansion

Accelerating the development of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) will be a significant enabler to reaching net zero, according to new research from Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. The global robotics market in the energy sector is expected to be worth £8.4bn by 2050.

With its high-growth forecasts, wind energy (onshore and offshore) is set to open up a new robotics frontier that will be valued at £1.3bn by 2030, increasing to £3.5bn by 2050, reports ORE Catapult. Meanwhile, declining production will see the oil and gas sector’s robotics market peak at £5bn in 2030, before reducing to £3.3bn by 2050.

The UK is targeting a seven-fold increase in offshore wind capacity by 2050, and with this growth comes the need for more operations and maintenance (O&M) activity. With wind farms set to be located in deeper, more remote and often challenging waters, securing safe access will be a significant industry challenge. ORE Catapult believes that accelerating and investing in the development of advanced RAS will mitigate this risk and means robots will handle not only routine maintenance tasks, but also improve pre-emptive maintenance, which will extend the life of components and turbines at sea, supporting the industry’s waste reduction drive.  

ORE Catapult’s report highlights that the global wind O&M market (both onshore and offshore) will grow from £51bn in 2030 to £120bn in 2050. While robotics will take a share of this prize, these technologies will also combine with data and digital solutions and other forms of O&M to increase that market share.  

According to the company, there is a huge opportunity for the UK to add value to the supply chain by leveraging its offshore oil and gas experience and global leadership in offshore wind. The expansion of offshore wind is set to offset many of the oil and gas jobs expected to be lost over the next 30 years, with RAS set to create a 200,000 net jobs across all UK sectors by 2038. 

While the UK offshore wind O&M market for robotics is set to double in size, the export potential is even greater and set for huge growth of 410%, increasing from £235mn in 2030 to £1.2bn in 2050, forecasts ORE Catapult.

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