No new offshore wind projects have been bought by developers at a key government auction, dealing another blow to Norfolk's renewable energy sector.

Insiders say firms refused to take part in the auction because the maximum price they could have charged for the energy generated was too low to keep up with rising costs.

Four Norfolk wind farms were eligible: East Anglia One and Two, owned by Scottish Power, and Vanguard East and West, owned by Vattenfall.

Energy experts now warn that the government’s target of more than tripling offshore wind capacity by 2030 will be jeopardised, and are calling on ministers to reform the auction process.

Lisa Christie, Vattenfall’s UK manager, said: “Offshore wind will be the backbone of Britain’s energy generation this century, but the industry has been hit by the perfect storm of huge price increases, the rising cost of capital, and a supply chain squeeze which is increasing competition for manufacturing and installation facilities.

READ MORE: 'New buyer won't save Vattenfall's Norfolk Boreas windfarm'

“The UK government can reduce the risks for developers, however, by increasing the support offered in future auction rounds to reflect the realities of the current market.

"This would ensure projects are financially sustainable while keeping prices stable for bill payers.”

The government's annual auction invites companies to bid to develop renewable energy projects and contracts to supply the UK grid.

The scheme ensures projects receive a guaranteed price for their electricity, which it is hoped will enable companies to have the confidence to invest.

It means if electricity prices are above the price set, the companies pay the excess back to energy suppliers, which should help to cut bills. If prices fall below the guaranteed price the energy suppliers - and customers - pay the company the difference.

Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower, which has four wind farms off the East Anglian coast, said: “This is a multi-billion-pound lost opportunity to deliver low-cost energy for consumers and a wake-up call for government.

“The [auction] process is recognised globally as a lynchpin of the UK’s offshore success, but it also needs to flex to keep pace with the world around it.

“The economics simply did not stand up this time around. 

“We need to get back on track and consider how we unlock the billions of investment in what is still one of the cheapest ways to generate power and meet the UK’s long-term offshore wind ambitions for the future.”

The co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, Richard Sandford, agreed.

He said: “It’s clear that this year’s auction represents a missed opportunity to strengthen Britain’s energy security and provide low-cost power for consumers.

“If all the offshore wind projects eligible to bid into this auction had done so, we could have powered the equivalent of more than five million British homes a year.

So, lessons must be learned to ensure that the parameters of the auction are set correctly in the future.”

Andrew Harston, chair of East Wind, said: "This is a difficult time for UK offshore wind developers with massively increased costs of the order of 40% in their supply chain as a result of inflation effects and the impact of higher interest rates.

"In order to deliver on our renewable energy targets of 50Gw by 2030 it’s vital that the UK government gives certainty to investors, which in turn will bring jobs, skills training, career opportunities etc to the region."