‘Robots hold the key to net zero’

A new report claims that by 2050 the robotics market in the energy sector will be worth £8.4bn and could become essential to the maintenance and success of key renewable systems

The Big Zero report

Robots hold the key to achieving net zero.

That’s the view of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE), which has published new research suggesting that autonomous systems and robotics could have a significant role to play in our global sustainable journey.

It claims that by 2050, the global robotics market in the energy sector will be worth £8.4 billion – with wind energy making up £3.5 billion of this.

According to the study, as offshore wind capacity grows, so will the need for maintenance and operations, which is where the robots step in.

ORE explains that menial tasks can be carried out by robots and autonomous systems, while also increasing the safety of humans in the maintenance process.

As more windfarms are built in more remote areas and deeper waters, robots can help to oversee operations and also prolong the life of components and turbines at sea – reducing industry waste in the process.

The report reveals that the operations and maintenance market for wind energy will more than double in 20 years, growing from £51 billion in 2030 to £120 billion in 2050. ORE concedes that robotics will take a share of this money but the growth in data and digital solutions will also allow for the market to expand.

Robot inspecting a wind turbine – Image: Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

Gavin Smart, Head of Analysis at ORE, said: “The growth of the global energy market presents a remarkable opportunity for robotics and autonomous systems.

“This is not only the case in offshore renewables, a sector which continues to grow at pace but also in oil and gas in the short to medium term.

“What is unique about the robotics market is the potential for cross-application technologies. It is likely that the solutions that will maximise performance, increase efficiency and improve safety will be adapted to work across multiple industries – inside and outside energy.

“As we continue to work towards achieving net zero, it is clear that robotics will play a key part.

“The opportunity this presents for the UK is significant – across the supply chain we can create jobs, upskill our energy workforce, build export potential and add value to our economy.”

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