The view from energy boss Kevin Keable's kitchen window is changing. "It's not great but it has to be done," he says. 

The chairman of the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) lives almost directly along the line of planned new pylons set to slice through the countryside from Norwich to Tilbury bringing green energy to people's homes. He will have a direct view from his house.

Many in the countryside - through Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex - are up in arms about the plans.

But Kevin - a long-time industry professional - sees the big grid upgrade as a practical necessity to power the UK through the energy transition.

This week energy professionals will be descending on East Anglia for a major conference which will be setting the scene for a vast ramping-up of the region's position in the fast-growing sector.

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SNS2024 - a two-day event based on developing energy projects around the Southern North Sea - is organised by EEEGR - the East's sector trade body. It kicks off at the Royal Norfolk showground on Wednesday, May 22.

It will span East Anglia's traditional energy industry - gas - and the new generation - wind and new nuclear. It will also encompass the vital supply grid, energy storage and carbon capture.

All of these are seen as vital components in the UK's so-called "energy transition" - moving it from fossil fuels to low and no-carbon alternatives over the next 26 years in order to combat global warming and preserve the Earth's diminishing resources.

Twenty years ago when EEEGR first started hosting the conferences, the picture was very different to today, says Kevin.

Back then it was all about the region's gas industry and the offshore wind industry was in its infancy.

Around a third of the UK's entire gas supply still flows through the Bacton terminal on the east Norfolk coast.

Kevin doesn't see the taps being turned off any time soon - in fact, he thinks we will still need gas for the next 20 to 30 years while we transition from carbon fuels.

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But today there are about a thousand turbine blades turning in the Southern North Sea - and many more are in the pipeline. These have got bigger and more efficient in producing large quantities of green electricity to power the nation.

So much so that it's not always possible - even now - to harness it all. Kevin likens getting it into the electricity infrastructure to getting on to a very busy motorway.

"Some of that electricity can't get into the grid at the moment," he explains. Thus the need for more infrastructure - including the pylons.

Building the grid is in many ways the hard part, he explains. By comparison, building the turbines is easy.

The sea bed - seen by many as the better route for the grid - still contains unexploded ordnance from the war and is not the professionals' favoured route for reasons of cost and practicality.

"We are now really talking about the energy transition so we have people talking about wind of course but we have also got people talking about gas and carbon capture and the grid which will be needed to make this work," explains Kevin.

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Even now, he believes that the industry is only at Everest basecamp - preparing to scale the heights and complete the transition.

"It's about collaboration. This conference is about how we can collaborate together to make this energy transition work," he says.

Among the big-hitters at the conference will be ScottishPower Renewables, Sizewell C, National Grid, oil and gas giant Perenco, RWE - new owner of the Norfolk offshore wind projects - and global energy skills leader OPITO.

Delegates will be looking at opportunities in the Southern North Sea - the so-called "Sea of Opportunity" - and the challenges their industry faces - including getting that energy to customers and recruiting the vast workforce it will need.

"We have a real skills shortage in this region," says Kevin. "We really want to take firm action."

Among the answers may be addressing a big gender imbalance in the industry. While globally, women making up 39 per cent of the workforce they account for just 16pc in the energy sector as a whole. Oil and gas employs about 22pc women and renewables 32pc - with wind at 21pc.

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There are opportunities to discuss too - including sharing expertise and technology with projects in other locations, such as in Scandinavia.

Among the delegates will be representatives of Norwegian Offshore Wind, the country's trade body. Representatives from the US offshore wind industry will also be attending - along with Celtic Sea delegates.

In the past, different sectors within the energy industry have operated in silos, says Kevin, but he detects a different mood now.

"In the past I would have said it's not feasible (to work together) because they are all competitors," he says. But now, collaboration is key.

"We are already on that pathway. I have been in discussions with government representatives recently and they are saying if we don't pull together this is not going to work and we are going to have to make it work," he says.

"There's a lot of common ground. The industry is going to be competing for skilled people and that's a real issue for us all."

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