East Anglia: Energy supply chain could be worth �271bn to region’s economy

BUSINESS opportunities worth more than �271billion for the energy supply chain in East Anglia have been mapped out in a new report commissioned by the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance.

The report highlights “enormous” benefits ahead for the region, with the potential to create thousands of new jobs and secure many more within the low carbon sector which is said already to employ around 19,000 people at 1,100 companies across the two counties.

It outlines the current energy generation mix and future energy opportunities, and assesses the capability of businesses to realise the economic benefits on offer.

With renewables, natural gas and nuclear power all set to continue to play a major role, it says Suffolk and Norfolk have a strong platform on which to build.

But the report adds that greater levels of support and guidance are essential, so that companies are aware of emerging opportunities in the energy sector and know how to access them.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance is a public and private sector coalition which includes Suffolk and Norfolk county councils, Suffolk Coastal, Waveney and Great Yarmouth district/borough councils, Suffolk and Norfolk chambers of commerce, the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Judy Terry, portfolio holder for Greenest County, Economy and Skills at Suffolk County Council, said: “The energy industry in our two counties offers such significant opportunities for businesses.

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“We are already positioning Norfolk and Suffolk as key drivers for the UK’s green economy building on the area’s rich history in nuclear and offshore operations, innovation and technology, coupled with world class credentials in automotive design, engineering and manufacturing which give us a unique offering.”

John Best, chief executive of EEEGR, added “Nowhere in the UK has a broader energy mix or provides as much business potential as Norfolk and Suffolk.

“The area’s offshore gas industry is still growing after 50 years and the region sits at the heart of the world’s largest market for offshore wind. Nuclear power facilities are being decommissioned and a new site at Sizewell is planned for development.

“With a growing bio-fuels market and plans for the storage of gas and captured carbon in the Southern North Sea, the area has an energy business worth billions.”

The report identifies that limited levels of manufacturing and engineering capability in terms of key component manufacture and construction is a key weakness of the UK supply chain across the energy industry and its sub-sectors.

However, it says that the Enterprise Zone for Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft can play a key role in stimulating investment in new facilities and business growth to meet this challenge

And the report says this is further enhanced by the announcement in December that the two towns are one of only five Centres of Offshore Renewable Engineering, ensuring support from Government to attract key engineering manufacturing businesses to setup and locate in the area.

Chris Starkie, programme director at the New Anglia LEP, said: “Given our close proximity to the offshore energy markets, and the breadth of experience within our business community, it’s no surprise that energy is one of our two top priorities for economic growth, along with the tourism sectors.

“With more than �271 billion pounds worth of new business prospects across the UK, of which �30bn is projects within Norfolk and Suffolk over the next 10 years, there are significant opportunities that we must ensure we are ready to deliver on.”