Norfolk is in line to receive billions of pounds of investment after plans to build a massive wind farm off its coast has been given a funding boost from the government.

Vattenfall, the company behind the project, had already received planning permission to build Norfolk Boreas Offshore Wind Farm 50 miles offshore, but has now secured an agreement that will help gain investment for the scheme.

It won its Contracts for Difference (CfD) bid, a government scheme, that secures the firm a guaranteed base line price for the electricity it will generate.

The next stage will be to gain investment, but securing the guarantee makes it likely that it will receive the funding needed.

Eastern Daily Press: Dr Catrin Jones, head of stakeholder engagement offshore wind at VattenfallDr Catrin Jones, head of stakeholder engagement offshore wind at Vattenfall (Image: CHPV/Julian Claxton)

Dr Catrin Jones, head of stakeholder engagement offshore wind at Vattenfall, said: "The decision gives everyone a level of certainty and means people can start investing."

Providing it gains the investment, Vattenfall is planning to start the construction of the wind farm next year.

Although the final number of turbines to be built has not been revealed, it is forecast that they will generate enough renewable electricity to meet the needs of around 1.5m homes.

The project is also expected to create thousands of jobs in the region.

The Norfolk Boreas Offshore Wind Farm is set to start providing electricity in 2026/27 and is the first phase of Vattenfall's Norfolk Offshore Wind Zone.

Eastern Daily Press: Vattenfall's map showing where the cables from the wind farms would go.Vattenfall's map showing where the cables from the wind farms would go. (Image: Vattenfall/CHPV)

Once completed, the Norfolk Zone is expected to produce enough renewable electricity to power more than four million homes and will be one of the largest offshore wind zones in the world, according to the Sweden-based firm.

Vattenfall is one of five offshore wind firms to have won the government's CfD, with ScottishPower Renewables East Anglia THREE also being successful.

Andrew Harston, a director at Associated British Ports, said that the winning of these contracts was good news for East Anglia and particularly for the Port of Lowestoft.

Eastern Daily Press: Andrew Harston from Associated British PortsAndrew Harston from Associated British Ports (Image: Associated British Ports)

He revealed that the Port had gained planning permission to construct a Lowestoft Eastern Energy Facility (LEEF) in anticipation of the firms winning the CfD bids.

"This will cost between £25m and £30m and will be a key facilities, including logistics, office storage and fuelling storage to support offshore wind," Mr Harston said.

"Construction will start later this year and it will be operational in 2024."

He added that it is expected that the new facility will create hundreds of jobs in the Lowestoft and surrounding areas.

Mr Harston also welcomed the news of Vattenfall and ScottishPower Renewables, which will build a windfarm off the Suffolk coast, as they will create "thousands of jobs during their construction and hundreds of jobs ongoing".

"The two projects are four times the size of existing East Anglia ONE project which cost £2.5bn to develop," he added.

"These new projects will see many billions of pounds invested just off the Norfolk coast."

What is the Contracts for Difference (CfD)?

Winning the CfD has given Vattenfall the go-ahead to proceed with its plans to build the first phase of its offshore wind zone off the north Norfolk coast.

This was a major win for the firm as it means that it has secured a guaranteed price for the electricity it will generate for 15 years.

In order to enter into the CfD bidding process, renewable energy companies had to submit a secret bid for the price of electricity they will generate.

Those offering the most competitive bid were awarded contracts, with just five firms being successful this round.

Previously the bidding took place once every two years but to help drive the country towards reaching net zero carbon emissions, the government has increased this to once a year.

Dr Catrin Jones, head of stakeholder engagement offshore wind at Vattenfall, said: "Offshore wind will now be the cheapest available energy to the consumer.

"This guarantees a reasonable price for the consumer and encourages firms to make huge upfront investment in new technology."

Sheringham wind farms extension progress as 'Pathfinder' projects

The Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon Wind Farm Extension Projects (SEP and DEP) have been selected to progress as 'Pathfinder' projects by the government.

The status was granted by the UK Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change Minister, Greg Hands, under the Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR).

This enables the projects to potentially deliver benefits on better coordinated offshore transmission systems, which connects energy created by offshore wind with the onshore electricity network.

It also allows them to provide important learnings for other firms within the OTNR.

Now that the projects have been given 'Pathfinder' status, Equinor, the firm behind the wind farms, will continue to engage with the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) and its other OTNR partners to address regulatory and policy challenges.