Norfolk and Suffolk have been named as the UK’s leading centre for offshore wind with the launch of a new cluster in conjunction with the release of the UK’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Offshore Wind Cluster is expected to help create thousands of new jobs and unlock investment in the local area from the opportunities in the whole sector. According to Doug Field, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, offshore wind could create more than 6,000 jobs in the region by 2032.
UK Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry MP arrived in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth on Thursday, 7 March to launch the Offshore Wind Sector Deal and the cluster’s prospectus– the business case for investment and growth.
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.
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 the government’s targets for 2030 as set in the Sector Deal.
Approximately GBP 11 billion 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 GBP 253 million.
Full build-out of the projects in construction and development will require an additional GBP 22bn in capital expenditure and bring the total annual operational expenditure to GBP 550m.
The East of England is also 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.
Peel Ports Great Yarmouth is planning an 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 is expected to afford massive opportunities for O&M. 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.