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New energy centre puts town on map

PUBLISHED: 16:44 14 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:47 05 July 2010

LOWESTOFT has been placed firmly at the forefront of this country's renewable energy industry after a Government minister opened the £9.4m Orbis Energy building.

LOWESTOFT has been placed firmly at the forefront of this country's renewable energy industry after a Government minister opened the £9.4m Orbis Energy building.

Energy and climate change minister Lord Hunt was greeted by typical east coast weather when he opened the renewable energy centre at Lowestoft's Ness Point, on Friday.

Despite the blustering wind and grim skies, Lord Hunt praised the facilities of the building, and even the view of a grey, choppy North Sea from the comfort of the conference room.

During his tour of the building he said: “It's amazing. Coming here today gives me a great deal of encouragement that people are really leading the way and I think for Lowestoft it's fantastic. It has every prospect of being an important national centre for renewable energy.”

Although only one fifth of the 30-unit office space has been leased out, chiefs expect that figure to increase to half by April.

The anchor tenant of the four floor building, Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds, is moving in next month.

The centre, which is owned by Suffolk County Council, was funded by East of England Development Agency, with the EU and Waveney District Council also contributing.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said that renewable energy was a “guaranteed” market, and meant more jobs for skilled workers.

“That market is absolutely on our doorstep,” he said. “Renewable energy is something the country simply has to have to keep the lights on and to stop climate change and rising sea levels.

“We think we will be the offshore renewable energy capital in the country. This heralds a whole new future for Lowestoft. The first step is here today.”

Before opening the building Lord Hunt saw an innovative machine designed to harness the power of waves.

The Trident generator, the first of its kind ever to be built, will be left in the North Sea initially for three months, before it is converted into a full-size model.

Its inventor Hugh-Peter Kelly said: “Wave energy has been neglected. It is the hardest but most rewarding form of renewable energy. Forty per cent of our entire national energy needs for electricity can come from harnessing wave power around the UK.”

Trident Energy, which is based in Southend, commissioned marine engineers Small & Co, in Commercial Road, Lowestoft, to build the framework rig, which is in the final stages of construction.

Lord Hunt said: “I think it's a very exciting project by Trident. It has great potential for developing experts and developing much more renewable energy. The test will be to scale it up.”

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