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East Anglia: New Anglia LEP welcomes Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult report on growth prospects

08:40 14 March 2014

Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia LEP.

Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia LEP.

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New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has welcomed a study highlighting the huge potential of offshore renewble energy projects to boost growth and jobs.

Offshore renewables could boost the economy by almost £6.7billion and help support 150,000 jobs by 2020, a new report has found if UK companies can “seize the opportunity” and put the industry on an accelerated growth path.

The report, published by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, a UK body supporting innovation and rapid commercialisation for offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies, says this would see total capacity of wind power projects in UK waters reaching 15GW (gigawatts), with 34,000 people employed directly in the industry.

It shows that if growth in offshore renewables was more “gradual” the sector could be worth £2.3bn to the economy by 2020, supporting 50,000 jobs. This would be the case if installed capacity reached 8GW by then, the research found.

Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said, “New Anglia is already ‘seizing the opportunity’ that offshore renewables provides for business growth in our region.

“Following a submission by New Anglia to government, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft were selected as two of six locations across England as Centres for Offshore Renewable Engineering (COREs) and both Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft will be centres for Operation and Maintenance of offshore windfarms.

“Working closely with partners, we have created an Enterprise Zone based across six sites in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth and offers great incentives for energy-related businesses with ambitions to grow jobs.

“In addition to a discount on business rates, simplified planning and superfast broadband, companies in the Enterprise Zone now have the added benefit of a major hub for operations and maintenance of the wind farm on their doorstep. This could provide exciting supply chain opportunities, for companies which are looking to expand and grow.”

“Suffolk and Norfolk businesses will play a significant part in boosting the national and regional economy, through offshore renewables.”

Offshore wind power provided 3.6% of the UK’s electricity supply in 2013, contributing £1bn to the economy and supporting 20,000 jobs, including 5,000 in the sector itself, but the ORE Catapult report said that could increase dramatically in the next six years.

“In the 15GW accelerated growth path scenario for offshore wind, where UK companies seize the opportunity and innovate collaboratively, GVA (gross value added) can reach almost £6.7bn in 2020, supporting 34,000 direct jobs and 150,000 jobs in total,” the research said.

This could see turbine manufacturing worth £2.1bn to the UK by then, while operations and maintenance work could contribute £1.4 billion to the economy, according to the report.

Under the “gradual growth path to 8GW installed in 2020, GVA can reach £2.3bn in 2020, with just under 12,000 direct jobs and 50,000 jobs supported in total”.

The report added that by developing an “internationally competitive offshore renewable energy industry, the UK will benefit from investment in strategically important technologies and markets, economic diversification, increased international trade and greater economic competitiveness”.

It also said the economic benefits of a larger offshore renewables sector could be spread throughout the country. “The UK economic benefits generated in terms of wealth and employment creation will not be concentrated in one or two regions but will be dispersed across many local economies in the UK,” it stated. “This distribution of economic benefits will promote regional growth and greater economic parity across regions.”

ORE Catapult chief executive Andrew Jamieson said: “The UK is in a strong position today, leading the world in both deployment and ambition for offshore renewable energy. We have the industrial base, research capability, regulatory framework and supply chain to continue to prosper and lead.

“This report clearly demonstrates the significant potential economic value of offshore renewables and why it is worth the investment now to develop and grow sustainable industries delivering energy from our offshore natural resources.”

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