£30m Great Yarmouth port investment indicates commitment to offshore wind

Offshore wind farms have led to new investment in Great Yarmouth. Pictured is the Seajacks vessel Sc

Offshore wind farms have led to new investment in Great Yarmouth. Pictured is the Seajacks vessel Scylla, which installs offshore turbines, docked in the outer harbour at Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2016

A renewable energy expert has welcomed a decision by one of the East of England's biggest ports to focus on the offshore wind industry in a new expansion project – which it has emerged could top £30m.

Richard Goffin - new director of Great Yarmouth Port Company Limited trading as Peel Ports Great Yar

Richard Goffin - new director of Great Yarmouth Port Company Limited trading as Peel Ports Great Yarmouth. In the outer harbour surrounded by Seajacks vessels. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

The development at Peel Ports Great Yarmouth would provide 350m of extra berthing space and around 100,000 sq m of additional land.

Its owners are also looking at using the facilities – including office and warehouse space and a new skills and training centre – as an offshore energy operations and maintenance (O&M) base.

Port director Richard Goffin said sharing the facilities with the offshore wind community was 'an attempt to capitalise' on projects like the East Anglia One and Dudgen wind farms, with further capacity for the importation of large wind farm components planned into the multi-million pound development.

Research commissioned by Peel Ports on Great Yarmouth's potential as a base for offshore wind operations revealed location was its biggest strength

Mr Goffin said: 'Subject to the government keeping to its word on climate change and electrifying the country rather than being reliant on overseas gas, we are confident that the wind farms we are targeting will go ahead.

'There is a lot of confidence in the sector at the moment. Offshore wind is now cheaper than nuclear and about the same price as gas, according to the last Contract for Difference.'

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Johnathan Reynolds, business development lead at OrbisEnergy in Lowestoft, said Peel Ports' investment represented 'an incredible statement and commitment' to support growth in industries like offshore wind.

'Through the supply chain we are seeing investments which come together to add so much more than the sum of their parts. Peel's continued investment is a critical part of that,' he said.

'In this region we have already created one of the most dynamic clusters for offshore wind in the world, and delivered more projects off our shores than anywhere else.

'What is critical for offshore wind's development is strong ports, strong infrastructure, and the flexibility to allow companies to work in different ways.

'The power of place and clustering like-minded companies, especially in offshore energy, is immense and we are seeing that happening, with offshore wind playing a leading role in new developments.'

A spokesman for New Anglia LEP said the East was in 'a very strong position to capitalise on the growth of the offshore wind industry, with more than 50 years heritage in working offshore and a ready-made supply chain of engineering expertise which is both expanding and diversifying to meet current and future needs'.

'The LEP is already working to facilitate this growth, with an Enterprise Zone that's delivered more than 2,000 new jobs; by offering funding and advice on how to move into new markets via our Oil and Gas Taskforce; through infrastructure investment including more than £10m on transport improvements in Great Yarmouth and a similar amount to fund a new Energy Skills Centre at East Coast College; and providing targeted funding to support growing businesses and new jobs.'

Peel Ports' expansion plan is at the feasibility stage, with simulations of the development being created and expressions of interest being gathered from developers.

More than £100,000 has already been spent on navigation and engineering assessments.

The majority of the £30m estimated project cost – of which Peel Ports Great Yarmouth expects to invest £15m-£20m itself – would go on building the new quay wall and land creation.

Mr Goffin said the development could be staged. 'We look at the shared O&M facilities first, which are lower-cost. The O&M terminal would be a bigger investment but the pre-assembly work could be a big enabler for businesses in the local supply chain.'