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Suffolk and Norfolk are UK's leading offshore wind centre

Norfolk and Suffolk have been named as the UK’s leading centre for offshore wind with the launch of a new cluster.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Offshore Wind Cluster brings together the biggest names in the industry, including ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall together with the area’s ports, local authorities, business groups and educational institutions.

The cluster will help create thousands of new jobs and unlock investment in the local area from the opportunities in the whole sector. In recognition of the importance of the Norfolk and Suffolk cluster, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry MP comes to Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth to launch the offshore wind sector deal and the cluster’s prospectus – the business case for investment and growth.

Doug Field, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Norfolk and Suffolk’s wind cluster is becoming the centre of gravity for the UK’s market with more capacity than any other UK region. A recent deal has been signed with ScottishPower Renewables which will mean that our area will have one of the biggest offshore wind farms in the UK (East Anglia ONE).

“We welcome Minister Claire Perry MP in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth where she will be launching Government’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal which aims to deliver a significant step change in growth, improve productivity, deliver leadership and create more jobs.

“We’re launching Norfolk and Suffolk’s offshore wind prospectus today which sets out our ambitions, vision and how the cluster will be developed. This opportunity could also create more than 6,000 well-paid skilled jobs by 2032 which is a key aim for our region.”

A dedicated Energy Sector Skills Plan is being developed, which prioritises industry leadership; higher technical engineering offer; building workforce transferability within the industry and across sectors; addressing overall ‘energy skills fragility’; building inclusive local capacity; and securing the future energy workforce. The region has the potential to benefit more than any other area in England from a growth in offshore wind jobs.

Norfolk and Suffolk’s offshore wind cluster, which has more installed capacity than any other UK region, is fast becoming UK’s energy epicentre. Nearly 4GW of offshore wind power is operational off the region, accounting for 52% of the UK’s current 7.5GW installed capacity. The cumulative capacity in operations and development off the area is 14.5GW. This could already deliver 50% of Government’s targets for 2030 as set in today’s Sector Deal.

Simon Gray, CEO of the East of England Energy Group, said: “We’re are delighted to be working with New Anglia LEP on the offshore wind cluster. This important development now means that our region is at the very epicentre of the energy production for the country.

“This call will bring huge opportunities for skills development and new jobs for our region.”

The East of England’s renewable energy, gas and nuclear power growth opportunity is worth £59.4bn by 2040.

Investment

Approximately £11bn of development and capital expenditure has been invested in constructing offshore wind projects in the region, with the 971 operational turbines requiring ongoing annual operational expenditure of around £253m.

Full build-out of the projects in construction and development will require an additional £22bn in capital expenditure and bring the total annual operational expenditure to £550m.

The East of England is the closest UK region to the four high certainty growing European export markets of the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Denmark, where an additional 37GW of offshore wind power will be generating by 2030. 

Port infrastructure

The UK’s leading offshore energy ports of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, along with nearby Wells, have emerged as strategic centres for the offshore wind sector.

Peel Ports Great Yarmouth is planning a significant expansion at the outer harbour to create a centre of excellence for operations and maintenance (O&M). Facilities would include extended quayside space with deep water access, a new training centre as well as space to accommodate at least one major manufacturer of wind turbine components.  

At ABP Lowestoft, the port is investing in the redevelopment of Shell Quay. The new site will afford massive opportunities for O&M and further underpin the region’s position as the UK’s renewable energy hub. The port has also recently announced a 30-year deal with ScottishPower Renewables to be a construction support and O&M hub for East Anglia ONE.

Strategic approach

The LEP has developed a new All Energy Industry Council to establish the East of England as the UK’s All Energy Region to boost trade, investment and growth within the industry and deliver the National Industrial Strategy and Sector Deals. A priority focus of the new Council will be to develop the offshore wind cluster alongside, and in parallel with, planned investment and development across the energy industry.

Sue Wilcock