East of England celebrates beginning of Wind Week 2021
- Credit: Julian Claxton / CHPV
The power of wind energy as a solution to a greener future is celebrated this week across the UK by RenewableUK’s Wind Week 2021. The East of England is celebrated as a centre of wind excellence and hub of innovation attracting tens of billions of pounds of investment in offshore wind.
The economic regeneration, jobs and export potential of the wind industry to the East of England – while addressing climate change – is explored all week in a series sponsored by GENERATE.
Norfolk and Suffolk have the potential to benefit more than any other English area from the growth in offshore wind growing off its coastline as the UK accelerates its journey to a low-carbon future.
Businesses are targeting the region to be part of its growth potential as offshore wind transforms the UK’s energy system, the East of England’s economy, and career prospects of tens of thousands of people, on top of addressing the biggest emergency of our time: climate change.
Shallow waters, windy conditions and close proximity to the major centres of energy demand make the East of England perfect to harness wind power, and 1073 offshore turbines – almost half the UK’s operating capacity – are already spinning off its shores, installed and maintained from ports at Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, and Harwich.
The East of England has built a global reputation as a centre of wind energy excellence and a fast-expanding hotbed of developing offshore technology and high-level skills.
Five new offshore wind farms and four extension projects are in the pipeline to deliver 40% of the UK’s target of 40GW in the next nine years, bringing up to £16 billion of investment to the region compared to £28 billion for the rest of the UK, growing to £30 billion by 2040.
Drawing on more than 50 years of experience with offshore energy production in gas, the region is set to be providing clean power for about half of the UK’s homes by 2050, with wind key to integrated systems alongside nuclear power and onshore renewables, supported by flexible generation and green hydrogen.
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The huge potential of wind power will be celebrated across the UK this week by Renewable UK’s Wind Week 2021 as world leaders prepare to descend on Glasgow to discuss how to address the climate emergency at the United Nations climate change conference COP26, where wind will be a key focus.
Boris Johnson points to offshore wind as forming the backbone of the UK’s future energy supply and energy minister Greg Hands MP said last month it was “the lynchpin in our efforts to reach net-zero”.
Dan McGrail, RenewableUK chief executive, is calling for support to increase the speed of scaling up the UK’s wind power capacity because the development process can take a decade to deliver a single farm, which is not quick enough to meet needs.
Since the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm, Scroby Sands, was built off Norfolk in 2004, the wind industry has surpassed all expectations by bringing costs down through technology innovation and expanding at scale, regularly outpacing fossil fuel generation last year.
When the next generation of wind farms are built off Suffolk on ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia Hub, turbines used on East Anglia ONE North, East Anglia Two and East Anglia THREE will be nearly eight times the capacity of Scroby Sands, which still generates enough power for 40,000 homes.
Last week the chairman of ScottishPower Renewables’ parent company Iberdrola recommitted £6.5 billion to build the East Anglia Hub, to join its £2.6 billion East Anglia ONE – now in operation for a year powering 630,000 homes. East Anglia ONE is run out of its new operations and maintenance base in Lowestoft, where ScottishPower Renewables invested £25 million in the port and its facility and £5 million in Peel Ports Great Yarmouth deep water harbour during construction.
Vattenfall’s Norfolk projects, Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas, will power 3.9 million homes. The company pledges to invest as much in Norfolk and Suffolk businesses as possible throughout its 30-year lifespan.
Ian Pease, for GENERATE, which works to attract investment to the region, said wind potential was greater than just the UK market, with high-growth European offshore wind markets in the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Germany within easy reach for export.
“We have seen businesses that started off as homegrown companies, like Seajacks and Worley, formerly 3sun Group, in Great Yarmouth, Acteon Group in Norwich and Pipeshield in Lowestoft, export their expertise to international markets, including the fast-growing US east coast and Taiwanese offshore wind sectors, and continue impressive growth.”
Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Greg Hands will be the opening speaker at the East of England’s Wind Week event at OrbisEnergy, Lowestoft, on Friday (October 29).
Other speakers at the event, organised by the East of England Energy Group and sponsored by GENERATE, include Dan McGrail RenewableUK Chief Executive, Michael Somerville, Project Controls Manager, ScottishPower Renewables, Emma Toulson Lead Stakeholder Advisor UK, Orsted, and Andy Paine, Head of Wind Development, Vattenfall.
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