MEMBER NEWS: Global Underwater Hub Business Survey 2023: UK Supply Chain capability is high, but lack of project visibility is threatening confidence

October 25, 2023
MEMBER NEWS: Global Underwater Hub Business Survey 2023: UK Supply Chain capability is high, but lack of project visibility is threatening confidence

Global Underwater Hub’s (GUH) 2023 Business Survey has emphasised the strength of the UK supply chain across the underwater sectors but warns that a continuing lack of project surety is impeding necessary investment.

The survey, published today [Wednesday, 25 October], found that the supply chain believes it has the necessary capabilities to actively diversify into new market sectors, supporting the energy transition. However, a lack of clarity around future project timelines is affecting confidence, impeding investment and hampering efforts to tackle bottlenecks in the supply chain and increase capacity.

Compiled by GUH’s market intelligence team, the report gathered the views of GUH member companies and the wider supply chain and acts as a bellwether for the underwater industry. It details the capacity, capability and confidence of companies working across the underwater sectors to meet the demand of planned multi-billion-pound investments.

The new publication highlights the key industry sectors and geographic markets being prioritised by companies and how transferable they deem their products and services. Respondents noted concerns and challenges around market diversification, skills and investment, which could impede the development of global offshore energy, subsea cabling or aquaculture projects.

Findings from the study will inform, influence and assist decision making across the broad spectrum of stakeholders involved in the underwater sectors, including government, investors, technology developers and the supply chain itself.

Steve Fernie, strategic programme manager at GUH and who led the survey, said: “The 2023 Business Survey set out to ask three key questions around the underwater industry supply chain’s capacity, capability and confidence in delivering upcoming projects. We have gone behind the numbers to investigate the supply chain’s viewpoint on demand, its ability to meet that demand and where it sees challenges in doing so.

“The results give a pragmatic perspective of how the underwater industry supply chain views the upcoming investments in offshore energy, subsea cables, aquaculture and subsea minerals. There is confidence across the underwater sectors, yet it is very aware of the challenges it faces which would impact the speed of project development and delivery.

“As the global drive to net-zero continues, there are huge opportunities for the UK’s world-class underwater supply chain, which for decades has been in demand overseas. Creating project surety is critical in order for the underwater supply chain to support the timely development of multiple projects and deliver 2050 net-zero ambitions.”

GUH Business Report 2023 – quick facts

  • The UK is home to a world-class supply chain which is a huge benefit for domestic projects. However, the supply chain considers UK opportunities amongst a global portfolio, 93% of companies are also actively exploring international markets whilst retaining a focus on the UK.
  • Market opportunities across the globe are expected to increase in the short and medium term, with stronger growth expected to come from international markets compared to UK opportunities. Oil and gas and offshore wind significantly represent the largest markets.
  • More than 80% of companies who took part in the survey are already active or considering diversification across the underwater market sectors.
  • The supply chain is confident that it currently has the required capability to be active across its core and diversified markets. Nearly two-thirds (64%) are confident in their current capabilities, while looking ahead 83% are confident in their future levels.
  • Capacity is hampered by parallel demand from concurrent investment in the underwater sectors and an undersupply of a skilled workforce. Only 55% believe they have the required current capacity, although there is greater positivity when looking at the longer term.
  • The supply chain is confident that required capacity to deliver planned projects can be achieved but the majority expects ‘significant’ investment and headcount increases will be required over the longer term.
  • Confidence in the underwater market exists on a global basis with greater opportunities seen overseas. Project visibility is the largest barrier, with the vast majority fearing that most projects will not keep to proposed timelines which greatly impacts supply chain planning.

Get in touch

AREG is the original energy transition organisation, working on behalf of members to empower the energy supply chain and champion its expertise. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to find out more about membership.

AREG has played an important role in the growth of Scotland’s renewable energy sector, engaging the supply chain and developing the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. However, we are only at the very beginning of the transition that AREG was established to both lead and support so there are still opportunities for companies to get into the constantly evolving renewables supply chain. We look forward to continuing our work together as renewables builds on its place as Scotland’s main source of power, and as we seek to deliver real change in the crucial areas of heat and transport.

Scottish Renewables

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with AREG since its formation. The recent progress in the developments of offshore wind projects by Equinor and Vattenfall are as a result of the work of the group over many years. The north-east is known as the oil and gas capital of Europe. At the Chamber, we believe the region must evolve its position to being recognised as the energy capital. Whilst hydrocarbons will continue to be essential in driving our economy for years to come, the generation of renewable resources will play an increasingly important role in providing cost-effective power, innovative development and economic growth.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce

The enthusiasm and dedication of the early group that would become AREG was fundamental in us choosing to launch All-Energy in Aberdeen. The first tiny show was held in 2001, and AREG’s Chairman at the time, Jeremy Cresswell, played such an active role that I often describe him in terms such as All-Energy’s ‘midwife’. All-Energy is now the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference in terms of number of attendees, space booked, and number of exhibiting companies. As AREG became firmly established, their presence and support for the event grew spectacularly over the years. We thank them most sincerely for their invaluable input.


Vattenfall has forged a strong working relationship with AREG through the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. AREG has worked tirelessly on behalf of the North East and it can take enormous credit for the growth of sustainable energy in the region and the path it has cleared for the region to capture further investment.


Aberdeen City and Shire is emerging as a key location for renewables by successfully transferring its world-class oil and gas expertise into the sector and AREG has done much to advance this through a broad range of initiatives. It has acted as a catalyst in driving further investment in the local economy by engaging with companies, Government, public bodies and existing projects and we have been pleased to support their efforts. Scottish Enterprise will continue to engage with AREG as we increase Scotland’s use of renewable energy.

Scottish Enterprise