The East Anglia Offshore Windfarm Zone could become an international flagship for the industry, according to its developers.
Jonathan Cole, managing director of Iberdrola Offshore Wind, told the East of England Energy Group’s SNS2014 Conference in Norwich it was the perfect zone for reducing the cost of windfarm development – imperative for the industry to succeed.
The scale, location and similarity of six sites within the planned 7,200MW zone leant themselves to the 35% reduction in costs needed by 2020 – and with consent for the first site expected mid-2014, this could become a very significant year for East Anglia.
His words brought a delighted reaction from James Gray, inward investment director for the East of England Energy Zone (EEEZ) who last month said he believed the region was on the verge of a major breakthrough in its battle to win a massive slice of the offshore windpower market.
“It confirms my belief that the industry’s centre of gravity is moving towards us and I’m highly encouraged by Mr Cole’s talk of future investment and major opportunities for the local supply chain and ports,” he said. “This is a tremendous boost for the region, particularly it comes shortly after Statoil confirmed that Great Yarmouth would be operations port for the Dudgeon windfarm while Lowestoft was chosen as operating base for the Galloper development off Suffolk.”
Mr Cole told delegates he expected first tenders to be under consideration this year for East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm, with construction in 2018 and first power generated in 2019.
Planning consent for sites three and four would be sought in 2016/17 and for two, five and six in 2018/2020.
“The cost of energy will be the deciding factor. Probably the only real argument against windpower is cost. It scores high everywhere else.
“If we cannot rise to the challenge of reducing costs then the offshore wind scene will be quite short-lived. But we do not intend to fail.”
He said there was no one magical solution to cutting costs but it would evolve from selecting the best sites and correct technology and then standardising the development process to take advantage of economies of scale.
The East Anglia zone was perfect for such evolution because all six sites had many similarities. Lessons from the first would benefit those which followed.
“If East Anglia cannot be made to work, I don’t know where you will find a project that can,” said Mr Cole. Iberdrola’s subsidiary, Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) is joint developer of the East Anglia Array offshore windfarm with Vattenfall.
Press release, March 12, 2014; Image: tms-media