East Anglia bids for UK offshore renewables technology innovation
7th September 2011
The East Anglian region is at the centre of the world’s largest market for offshore wind deployment and the UK’s most dense area of offshore wind energy development. That’s why OrbisEnergy, the offshore renewables hub based in Lowestoft, is spearheading a bid to host a UK wide Technology and Innovation Centre for the offshore wind, wave and tidal industries.
The Government has committed more than £200 million over the next four years to establish an elite network of at least six technology and innovation centres, led by the Technology Strategy Board. The centres will allow businesses to access equipment and expertise to help them develop and commercialise new and emerging technology.
Few emerging business sectors offer quite as much excitement as that of offshore renewables, where East Anglia is at the heart of the UK’s offshore wind potential. The region’s rich history in offshore operations, innovation and technology, with world class credentials in offshore engineering and fabrication gives East Anglia a unique offering. With the most offshore wind turbines installed, and the largest number of offshore wind farms planned, the East Anglian coastline is leading the UK’s offshore renewables industry.
OrbisEnergy, which is owned by Suffolk County Council and supported by Waveney District Council, has brought together a unique partnership of leading organisations which combined deliver the resources and expertise to drive the development and deployment of new technology, pioneering approaches to industry challenges and be able to deliver innovative solutions.
The partnership includes prominent offshore wind developers such as ScottishPower Renewables, Vattenfall and SSE Renewables; leading Universities from Suffolk, East Anglia, Essex, Cranfield, and Durham; and specialist research institutes such as the Cefas laboratories, TWI and a new UK Centre for Innovative Manufacturing based at Cranfield University.
Judy Terry, Portfolio Holder for the Economy, Skills and Greenest County at Suffolk County Council, said: “The development of a technology and innovation centre for offshore renewables is a real opportunity for East Anglia. OrbisEnergy already has many of the component parts of the proposed TIC model and we will be working hard to try and secure this investment in the region.
“We are already positioning OrbisEnergy and East Anglia as key drivers for such a centre building on the area’s rich history in offshore operations, innovation and technology, coupled with world class credentials in automotive design, engineering and manufacturing which give East Anglia a unique offering.”
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said “We know that offshore renewables is a key growth sector for the economy and we are committed to ensuring companies across East Anglia benefit from this huge opportunity.
“We also have areas of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth which have been granted Enterprise Zone status focussing largely on the energy sectors. With discounts on business rates, simplified planning approaches and investment in superfast broadband, Enterprise Zone status will create a hugely supportive environment and directly support investment and growth which complements and strengthens our bid to host the Technology Innovation Centre.”
John Balch, Strategic director at OrbisEnergy said “Of the 15GW of offshore wind power consented within the UK, more than 50% have secured grid connection offers on the East Anglian coastline. This puts the area at the heart of the UK’s offshore wind industry, with the southern North Sea emerging as the international proving ground for large-scale offshore renewables.
“As a specialist innovation and incubation hub, OrbisEnergy supports businesses across the value chain encouraging start-up and growth among technology and high-growth enterprises looking to commercialise products or services from R&D stage through to market-readiness and beyond. The development of the TIC is a natural extension building on the strong position we have built so far.”
The first stage of the application process is underway with detailed Expressions of Interest, and successful applicants being called back in early October to form appropriate consortia to develop full business plans with the Centre hopefully becoming operational in by late Spring 2012.