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Energy sector leaders say Contracts for Difference will provide opportunities for East Anglia

Companies such as Stowen Clean Energy and 3sun Group, both based in Great Yarmouth, have secured big contracts in the offshore wind industry recently. Industry leaders hope Contracts for Difference will help bolster the sector in East Anglia. Picture: Stowen Group

Companies such as Stowen Clean Energy and 3sun Group, both based in Great Yarmouth, have secured big contracts in the offshore wind industry recently. Industry leaders hope Contracts for Difference will help bolster the sector in East Anglia. Picture: Stowen Group

Stowen Group

A government initiative to attract more investment in offshore energy has been welcomed by industry leaders in East Anglia.

It was announced this week that Contracts for Difference (CfD), an initiative started in 2014 which sees renewable energy firms bid through auctions for a minimum price for the electricity they produce, will now be held biannually to further incentivise investment in low-carbon electricity generation.

Following auctions in 2014 and 2017, the next in the indefinite biannual timetable will be held in May 2019 under a previously-set £557m budget.

Sector leaders in East Anglia – which could soon be home to
some of the world’s largest wind farms – believe the increased stability of the CfD programme will provide more opportunities for the local supply chain to develop.

There are hopes it could also speed up regeneration in coastal communities in Norfolk and Suffolk, where many wind 
farm operators have chosen to anchor their operations and maintenance.

Simon Gray, chief executive of EEEGR, said: “We are becoming more and more of a world-class centre for operations and maintenance so will try to sell ourselves on that basis.

“Local companies will be able to go out and sell their services globally which is encouraging.”

Martin Dronfield, director of strategy and business development at James Fisher Marine Services and chairman of the EEEGR offshore wind special interest group, said the government announcement would strengthen the region’s existing capabilities.

“We have a great supply chain and can offer developers and operators unrivalled supply chain support across both construction and operations and maintenance. Indeed, we are already seeing local business benefit from the investment in the industry to date and I can only see that continuing on the back of the great news from the government,” he said.

Graham Hacon, chief executive of offshore services company 3sun, hoped more money would be made available by government to develop industry skills. His own company invested £1.7m of its £24m turnover last year in training and is a leading partner in the offshore wind skills centre in Great Yarmouth.

“It is an investment worth making, particularly now we can see the longevity in the pipeline,” he said. “Having surety of a forward pipeline means we can make investments, make educated guesses on what projects will go forward and plan around it.”

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