Town 'at the heart' of green energy bid after windfarm success

Sun haze on the East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm.

Sun haze on the East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm. - Credit: Julian Claxton / CHPV

Lowestoft is at the heart of a bid for a greener future, according to a project director who claims its windfarm has brought in more than £140 million to the local economy.

The East Anglia ONE windfarm was completed 43km off the Lowestoft coast during the first national lockdown in 2020, with all 102 turbines now operational.

It was a major milestone for operator ScottishPower Renewables (SPR), with the £2.5 billion installation set to produce 714 megawatts of clean energy a year - enough to power more than 630,000 homes, the equivalent of the majority of houses in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Charlie Jordan, ScottishPower Renewables project director for East Anglia ONE. 

Charlie Jordan, ScottishPower Renewables project director for East Anglia ONE. - Credit: ScottishPower Renewables

Construction of the windfarm began in 2017, with the first turbine installed in June 2019, and the site is now one of the largest offshore windfarms in the world.

Charlie Jordan, project director for East Anglia ONE, said: "Lowestoft is the heart of our East Anglia ONE windfarm and home to our £25 million state-of-the-art operations and maintenance base, which is supporting more than 100 long-term skilled jobs over the life of the project.

"From here, our employees and contractors are helping generate the clean energy we all need for a greener, zero-carbon future.

"I'm very proud we're playing a leading role in the region's green energy sector, making it a hub of industry, investment and skills and helping create a positive legacy that will benefit generations to come - all from our base in Lowestoft."

In October 2019, SPR officially opened their operations and maintenance centre on Hamilton Road, having transformed the empty site, where 100 full-time employees will be based for the 30-year lifespan of the project.

At the peak of construction of the windfarm, the project supported almost 3,500 jobs, while £70 million was committed to local suppliers across the east of England, driving jobs and investment to local communities, with more than half of the project's supply chain provided by the UK market.

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With a project so focused on the future, SPR have also shown a keen emphasis on education throughout the project.

Further recruitment is planned later this year after two young, local people were awarded apprenticeships to work on the East Anglia ONE project, while SPR have also sponsored 26 places to date at the Offshore Wind Skills Centre aimed at retraining experienced engineers.

Construction of the East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm

Construction of the East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm - Credit: Antony Kelly

The centre, launched by East Coast College in 2018, is aimed at delivering courses matching the local industry's need, while SPR have also funded development of a website for Skills for Energy, set to launch later this year, to provide a careers hub, industry information and digital content for those looking to find out more.

The company have also supported International Women in Engineering Day events across East Anglia, with more than 1,000 young women engaged since 2018.

Mr Jordan said: "East Anglia ONE has also contributed around £145 million to the local economy, driving jobs and investment in conjunction with exceptional local suppliers who have helped cement Lowestoft and East Anglia as a centre of excellence for the offshore wind industry.

Construction of the East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm

Construction of the East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm - Credit: Antony Kelly

"Elsewhere, our ambitious skills strategy has supported thousands of people; funded ten engineering masters at the University of East Anglia; seen the recruitment of local apprentices and helped retrain skilled engineers, enabling them to start new careers in the renewables sector."

Undeterred by the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, SPR and their project partners adapted how they work to keep crews safe from the virus for the final 20pc of the installation, including the creation of crew 'households' who lived and worked together at all times.

The project has also seen £5 million co-invested in Peel Ports Great Yarmouth to prepare the facility for construction and assembly of turbine components.

East Anglia ONE is the first of four offshore windfarms the company are developing in the region, with the first power flowing on September 12, 2019.

Government consent for East Anglia THREE was granted in 2017, which could see up to 172 turbines installed to generate up to 1,400 megawatts.

In October 2019 SPR submitted applications to the Planning Inspectorate for East Anglia ONE North - 36km from the port of Lowestoft - and East Anglia TWO - 32.5km from the coast at Southwold.

Together, the two projects could generate a further 1,700 megawatts.