East coast hopes raised by China link

A DELEGATION of Chinese wind farm industry experts visits Lowestoft on Monday amid hopes of long-term investment and jobs for the east coast.

Multi-million pound investors from the Chinese province of Jiangsu are in Lowestoft, Southwold, Bury St Edmunds, Great Yarmouth and Norwich on Sunday and Monday.

They bring with them the potential for substantial investment with the east coast keen to reap the benefits and develop its existing prominent position in the offshore renewables industry.

After forging links with the world-leading wind farm equipment manufacturers and officials from China last September, following a visit from the Jiangsu Provincial People's Government, the Jiangsu government is bringing a delegation from seven major wind energy businesses – plus trade officials from the Jiangsu Department of Commerce – to Waveney next week.

The group also represents two Jiangsu wind energy companies that visited the east of England in September.

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The tour of local business and tourism hotspots by 29 senior businesspeople and trade officials from China features a promotional and business networking event at OrbisEnergy Centre on Monday. This will be hosted by the leader of Waveney District Council, Colin Law, and will also include presentations by three local companies – AKD, Gaoh Energy and Pipeshield.

The delegation will also visit the Power Park and take a tour of Lake Lothing.

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Investors from Jiangsu – a focal point for the Chinese offshore wind energy industry – are visiting East Anglia to look at investing in the production of offshore wind farm equipment along the East Anglian energy coast.

The visit is the latest link in the joint bid by Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex county councils to work with China to create new export and inward investment opportunities, leading to local jobs being created.

By 2020, offshore wind in the East of England is predicted to be worth �23 billion with the potential of creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

This month's visit follows last September's tour of Lowestoft and Yarmouth, and a reciprocal visit to Jiangsu in March this year by Mr Law and colleagues from Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex County Councils as part of the East of England Energy Sector Trade and Investment Mission.

The purpose of this visit was for the three counties to encourage Chinese businesses to consider setting up offshore wind manufacturing operations in the East of England, to create opportunities for the businesses and skills providers from the East of England to promote their services in China and to get the commitment of key Jiangsu and Shanghai government departments to work in partnership with the East of England.

This would help identify opportunities for exchanges of offshore wind industry trade and investment between Jiangsu, Shanghai, and the three counties.

Jiangsu is a leading province in China for wind energy and offshore wind energy industry because of its favourable wind conditions, long coast and proximity to areas of high electricity demand in the Yangtse River Delta area and Shanghai.

With Lowestoft and Yarmouth both selected last year to become a Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering (CORE) – meaning the government promotes the two towns as prime locations for companies within the renewable energy manufacturing industry – this brings fresh impetus to the momentum already building to help to put the East Anglian Energy Coast firmly on the map.

By 2015 it is envisaged that there will be around 80 businesses in the Enterprise Zone, of which 60 will be as a result of expansion and 20 inward investors. Longer term the Enterprise Zone is expected to be home to 150 to 200 businesses.

It is forecast that 9,000 new jobs will be created in the Enterprise Zone areas by 2025 (1,380 by 2015) and a further 4,500 (690) indirect jobs.

A Waveney District Council spokesman said: 'The forthcoming visit is designed to further strengthen economic ties between our region and China, particularly in relation to the renewable energy sector.'

With Waveney and Lowestoft geared up for renewable energy investment and an attractive location for investment via the CORE and Enterprise Zone, the spokesman added: 'Hopefully this will ensure that the investment will come through the establishment of new businesses and the creation of new jobs.'

Highlighting this, and looking forward to the meeting, Mr Law said: 'We are absolutely delighted to welcome the delegation from the Jiangsu province and very much look forward to showcasing the potential of Lowestoft and Waveney as an outstanding prospect for attracting inward investment in offshore wind power.

'Ultimately, this relationship is being built to create thousands of new jobs and prosperity for the region and I am very excited by the opportunities this important relationship will present us.'

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