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East Anglia’s offshore wind industry could benefit from new ‘special relationship’ agreement with US group

PUBLISHED: 15:44 30 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:45 30 May 2017

Terence R McAuliffe, governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, signing an executive directive which could cut greenhouse gases in Virginia, and make it a leader in the global clean energy economy. Picture: TMS Media.

Terence R McAuliffe, governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, signing an executive directive which could cut greenhouse gases in Virginia, and make it a leader in the global clean energy economy. Picture: TMS Media.

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The “special relationship” between the US and the UK could extend to East Anglia’s offshore wind industry, through a partnership struck by the East of England Energy Group.

The organisation, representing more than 300 companies, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition (VOW), which could lead to new opportunities for Norfolk and Suffolk firms in the emerging US offshore wind industry.

“The offshore wind industry is in its infancy in the US with just one offshore wind farm so far at Block Island, New England, which saw its first turbines last year,” said EEEGR chief executive Simon Gray.

“VOW is looking to draw on the expertise in the east of England, which is at the centre of the of the world-leading UK and European fast-maturing industry.”

Mr Gray said common ground for cooperation included port assets, workforce development and support industries.

Terence R McAuliffe, governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia wrote to Mr Gray to praise the memorandum of understanding. The letter was delivered to EEEGR offices by Charles Decuir, chairman of the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition and executive director of NovaVis, which maps and connects the supply chain supporting the emerging offshore alternative renewable energy industry in the US.

“I hope such an agreement will help facilitate opportunities for UK companies to engage in the emerging offshore wind energy market along the east coast of Virginia and the UK and provide new opportunities for Virginia companies to partner with qualified experts to help grow our nation’s offshore wind energy supply chain,” he wrote.

He added: “I know the East of England has been a long time leader in the offshore wind industry. Your partnership with VOW will help Virginia build a valuable foundation to advance offshore wind development and could be an important catalyst to build a successful and mature offshore wind supply chain in the US.”

Mr Gray said common ground between Virginia and the east of England included port assets, accessibility, infrastructure, maritime and construction support industry, and the development and availability of the workforce.

He said the agreement was “significant” for EEEGR, adding: “This is a perfect illustration of how EEEGR works in both directions – new members from outside the region seeking opportunities in our region and east of England members seeking opportunities abroad.”

At the US Offshore Wind 2017 conference and exhibition this month, delegates looked at what lessons can be learned from European wind companies, and how can the knowledge be transferred to the US.

After the $300m Block Island, new projects are following with the expectation the US will follow the same course as Europe and embrace offshore wind as part of a wider drive to decarbonise electricity generation, Mr Gray said.

Mr Decuir said: “The goal of coordinating the intellectual capital and expertise of the European market and bringing it to the emerging industry in the US has been a keen driver for the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition and NovaVis supply chain technologies and we are very pleased to have a strong relationship with the UK and in particular the good folks at EEEGR.”

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