Harwich: Vision set out for town to become an ‘innovation and incubation hub’ for offshore renewables

Siemens turbines being unloaded at Harwich International Port.

Siemens turbines being unloaded at Harwich International Port. - Credit: Siemens AG

Essex county and Tendring district councils have set out a vision for Harwich to be an innovation and incubation hub for the offshore renewable energy sector, attracting businesses to the area and creating new employment opportunities.

The councils have commissioned energy industry consultancy Nautilus Associates to undertake the first stage feasibility study, which will focus on industry demand and include work on potential locations, delivery models and service offer.

Harwich has a significant advantage for offshore renewables with the proximity of its deep-water port to existing and planned offshore wind farms off the Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk coast.

The port at Harwich is already at the leading edge of servicing offshore wind farm delivery. It was used for the installation of the 48-turbine Gunfleet Sands wind farm and the 140-turbine Greater Gabbard project, which is the second largest wind farm in the world. More recently, it was the installation port for the first round of turbines for London Array I, the world’s largest wind farm with 175 turbines generating 630 megawatts of power.

It was also the installation port for the two Gunfleet Demonstration Turbines, which are currently the largest capacity operational offshore wind turbines in the world at six megawatts each.

Now the councils are looking to build on that expertise by creating a new facility to drive future growth and become a catalyst for investment and jobs.

John Balch, managing director of Nautilus, said, “We’re delighted to be working with Essex and Tendring to explore options for an innovation and incubation centre. Harwich has a huge amount to offer the offshore renewables industry which, combined with its neighbours in Suffolk, makes the East Anglian coast an energy powerhouse.

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“Supporting younger companies to grow and encouraging innovation across the sector is vital. The UK Government suggest that by 2050 offshore wind innovation has the potential to deliver cost savings of £45bn and business creation for the UK worth £18bn. We’ll be exploring how best Harwich can get a slice of that.”

Nautilus has an extensive pedigree in the offshore renewable energy industry working with many of the sector’s developers, operators and companies throughout the supply chain. They also have a long standing relationship with leading enterprise agency NWES, who manage a number of specialist innovation and incubation centres, including Lowestoft-based OrbisEnergy, itself a flagship centre supporting offshore wind, wave and tidal companies.

Kevin Bentley of Essex County Council said: “We’re delighted to have commissioned this important piece of work, which is the first step in encouraging new jobs, new businesses and new investment into Harwich. We know that offshore wind in particular is a major growth area which works well with our ports, logistics, and marine engineering capabilities.”

Sarah Candy of Tendring District Council added: “This work is an important first step in assessing the feasibility of developing an innovation and incubation hub in Harwich, focussed on offshore renewables. This work responds directly to the sector priorities identified within the Council’s Economic Strategy, which was unanimously endorsed at Full Council in November 2013.”

Nautilus are encouraging all businesses with an interest in contributing to the study to get in touch. To contribute to the feasibility study, email harwichinnovation@nautilus.uk.com, call 01502 509266, or go to www.nautilus.uk.com/harwichinnovation .