Offshore energy industry can bring winds of change to Lowestoft

East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) Inward Investment Director James Gray. Picture: KEITH WHITMORE

East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) Inward Investment Director James Gray. Picture: KEITH WHITMORE - Credit: Archant

The offshore wind industry must prove it can help to regenerate coastal towns like Lowestoft to ensure it gets strong government backing, an industry leader from the East of England has said.

The Suffolk town received a major boost in November when it was announced that it would be the operational and construction headquarters for the East Anglia ONE windfarm, as well as the construction base for the Galloper windfarm.

The moves could bring thousands of temporary jobs and hundreds of permanent ones to Lowestoft – but Jonathan Cole, managing director of offshore wind for ScottishPower Renewables – the developer behind East Anglia ONE – has said: 'These projects are so big, the benefit will be spread around.

'The plan is for other areas of East Anglia to also benefit.'

Environment secretary Amber Rudd has said that the government would support 10GW more of offshore windfarms with three auctions this parliament – if the industry is successful in cutting its costs.

However at the recent Offshore Wind Vessels conference in London, James Gray – director of the East of England Energy Zone – said the devil would be in the detail.

'The industry generally welcomed her statement but we were told there would be three auctions during this parliament but we have yet to hear when, their value or anything to inform the supply chain about the requirements,' he said at the conference at Le Meridien, Piccadilly, which was attended by offshore wind developers, turbine manufacturers, other key component manufacturers, vessel operators and manufacturers.

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'The UK supply chain needs to be confident there will be an increase in UK content.'

Mr Gray called on the industry to step up its lobbying.

'There is still more to play for, such as securing a clear path with government support through the 2020s,' he said.

'It's incumbent on the industry to demonstrate that offshore wind can provide a solid, secure and cost effective source of energy for the future.

'Developers have demonstrated that they can reduce costs and this trajectory of falling prices – and lower subsidies – can be sustained to deliver value for money to HM Government.

'Offshore wind is important to the future growth of ports like Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, both of which have attracted new investment from the sector in recent months.'

He added that it was also important to promote the huge economic benefits offshore wind could bring to stimulate economic regeneration in key coastal towns.

What impact do you think the offshore wind industry will have on Lowestoft? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk