EastWind chair, Andrew Harston, talks about what’s been happening behind the scenes since announcing its transition to a Company Limited by Guarantee in February, and the important role EastWind will play in the continued growth of offshore wind in our region.

We will be three years old later this year, and the incorporation of EastWind as an independent legal entity was always one of our objectives. It is allowing us to build on the informal agreements and arrangements that we already had in place, and to provide clarity between our partners as to how we can work together going forward.

Our ambition as the East of England’s offshore wind cluster is to be able to do more for our network. Whether that’s looking for additional funding or grants, or forging relationships and forming partnerships with other clusters and sectors.

Many of these opportunities are only available to formal entities, so, formalising EastWind as a company allows us to explore opportunities for the cluster’s benefit.

Since we made the announcement of our transition to a Company Limited by Guarantee and the appointment of a dedicated project management resource at our member forum in February, we’ve been busy reviewing governance arrangements, developing our steering committee with representatives from RWE, ScottishPower Renewables and Opergy, and meeting with key stakeholders across industries, clusters and local authorities.

We’ve held in excess of 30 face-to-face meetings with organisations such as the ORE Catapult, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, county, district and borough councils, the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), GENERATE, Peel Ports, NOF and Energi-Coast, National Grid and offshore wind developers, to name but a few, all with a genuine interest in the activity taking place in our region.

Eastern Daily Press: Andrew Harston (left), chair of EastWindAndrew Harston (left), chair of EastWind (Image: ABP)
Information gathered from those meetings has been crucial when looking at the formalisation of our governance arrangements, the development of collaboration agreements and to reflect how, in a formal sense, we can work together to better position the role of offshore wind in the East of England and how we fit with the other energy interests in the region.

As we approach our third year, we aim to strengthen our impact, and with recent announcements of projects such as Equinor’s Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon extensions moving forward and Five Estuaries being accepted for DCO examination, plus RWE’s formal acquisition of the Norfolk Offshore Wind Zone, we believe the timing couldn’t be better.

We’re on the verge of, potentially, so much offshore wind activity in our region. These developments alone represent broadly 6 GW of new offshore wind, which will double the amount of capacity that’s in the East of England today, and more importantly, will continue to take the industry on the pathway to 16GW by 2035.

We recognise that much of the development of offshore wind started in our region. For example, the UK’s first commercial scale wind farm, Scroby Sands, is off the coast of Great Yarmouth, and the Offshore Wind Sector Deal was launched by then Energy Minister, Claire Perry, in Lowestoft in 2019.

The East of England continues to have the greatest amount of installed capacity in the UK and these developments, and the benefits that come from them, are very exciting for all aspects of the EastWind community.

We’ve identified three key pillars upon which our outputs will be measured: collaboration, industry and community.

We will continue to serve as a bridge between the developer community, companies and organisations with a direct interest in offshore wind, and, more importantly, the communities in the East of England where those developments will have a positive impact.

Eastern Daily Press: Recent announcements of projects such as Equinor’s Sheringham Shoal extension moving forward shows that the East of England has a key role to play in the growth of the industryRecent announcements of projects such as Equinor’s Sheringham Shoal extension moving forward shows that the East of England has a key role to play in the growth of the industry (Image: Harry Phoenix/Stowen)
In order for us to affect real change, collaboration will become increasingly important, and this is something that we recognise the significance of. By working together, we can identify common goals, optimise resources and address shared challenges to the benefit of the whole sector.

EastWind serves as a platform to facilitate collaboration and harness the collective view of our network. We don’t want to lose the momentum that our region has. Initiative and inertia both begin with i, and I’d rather we maintain the initiative rather than divert to a lot of inertia!

Through collective efforts, we can unlock opportunities, drive progress and ensure sustainable development in the East of England’s offshore wind sector. We’ve got an opportunity in our region to be key to contributing to the growth of the industry, and to do so for some decades to come, and I just think that’s so exciting.

If anyone is thinking of becoming part of the EastWind network, I would strongly encourage them to do so.

It’s free to join and offers invaluable networking opportunities and access to a diverse community of stakeholders ranging from SMEs to large fabricators, through to developers, all of which have one real interest: to be part of and support the development of offshore wind in our region.

You can sign up to the EastWind network at ewoc.co.uk. Follow EastWind on social media for information on upcoming events, funding and opportunities.