Working together for the development of future offshore renewable energy was the force behind a new Anglo-German agreement signed in Lowestoft.
OrbisEnergy and WAB, the Wind Energy Agency for north-west Germany, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a collaborative working relationship for North Sea offshore wind during a visit of a German delegation to the east coast.
Eleven members of Bremerhaven-based WAB spent two days networking and fact-finding across the industry in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth in a visit organised by OrbisEnergy, the innovation centre for offshore renewables.
The ultimate aim of the MOU is to pave the way for more collaborative projects like the current EU funded EcoWindS research project initiated by wind clusters of South Denmark, East of England and North-West Germany and Norway.
The German delegation, led by WAB managing director Ronny Meyer, included a researcher from one of the biggest wind energy research companies in Germany, leaders of an engineering consultancy, a port container company specialising in logistics for offshore projects, an IT company and a steel manufacturing company.
“Working together makes sense because we are probably the two biggest markets in the world and we have synergy and lots of potential between us,” Mr Meyer said, as he signed the MOU at the OrbisEnergy Centre.
“WAB, OrbisEnergy and Nwes already work together on the EcoWindS project and we would like to strengthen this collaboration.
“We are looking to share information, share best practice and going together for european projects. It makes sense. You have a big market here and we are probably the two biggest markets in the world and should work together.”
Johnathan Reynolds, business development at OrbisEnergy, said as well as the EcoWindS project, OrbisEnergy had worked with WAB on previous collaborative projects such across the North Sea.
“This visit was to look at exploring new opportunities to work together to strengthen relationships between us and it has been extremely successful.
“We hope there will be stronger relationships for our business communities, collaborative relationships between OrbisEnergy and WAB and German Wind and developing new projects that will help the offshore wind industry in our own respective countries.
“A growing number of our existing and graduate tenants have and are working on offshore wind projects both in the UK and in Germany. These include Seajacks who installed the 288MW Meerwind project, and more recently Fred. Olsen Windcarrier installing the 400MW Global Tech 1 wind farm.”
The MOU means the two organisations will now share best practice, ideas and non-confidential information, take part in and jointly sponsor projects and identify opportunities for collaboration.
OrbisEnergy is planning a return visit to the Bremerhaven region.
“We are one industry and it is a global industry centred in Europe. Strong relationships between regions such as the East of England and North West Germany are crucial in enabling our businesses to grow and work across international markets,” Mr Reynolds said.
“What we’d like looking forward is more collaborative projects covering supply chain development, innovation, skills, and investment which drives the industry ahead.”
During the visit, the delegation toured the Scroby Sands wind farm and the visitor centre, owned and operated by E.ON.
They were also guests at a networking dinner with industry representatives and Great Yarmouth and Waveney MPs Brandon Lewis and Peter Aldous, toured engineering company 3Sun and Lowestoft Port and had presentations by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), Fred. Olsen Windcarrier, 4C Offshore, Cefas and other companies.
Mr Reynolds said: “One thing that has come out of this is the level of openness and willingness to pursue stronger relationships which will reap benefits for our respective business and research communities.”
Mr Meyer said collaborative working had been “bubbling” for nine years with no formal framework for working together. In the meantime, WAB had been to China to inspect its offshore market.
“It is not the time to work with them. It makes more sense to work with the British companies,” he said, adding that everyone in the industry had the same aim, to reduce costs.
After the visit to Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, a major hub for installation, operations and maintenance for the industry, the delegation travelled to Hull and Humber as a leading manufacturing hub.