East Anglia joins forces with US city as it exports wind power know-how

Virginia Beach town centre by night

An aerial view of Virginia Beach town centre on the east coast of the USA - Credit: Visit Virginia Beach

A deal is set to be officially sealed between East Anglia and a part of the US east coast which wants to develop an offshore wind industry to rival this region's.

It is hoped the Memorandum of Understanding between New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the City of Virginia Beach in the US will open up trade and investment opportunities for the wind sector here as well as helping projects on the other side of the Atlantic. Other sectors could also benefit.

The signing of the memorandum is set to take place at Orbis Energy in Lowestoft on December 3. It will follow a US offshore wind seminar for about 50 business delegates.

It follows early pre-pandemic talks around offshore opportunities for UK firms. The US industry is in its infancy and its coast currently has just seven turbines - two of which are pilot turbines off Virginia Beach compared to more than 1,000 operating now in the Southern North Sea.

Virginia Beach pilot turbine

Dominion Energy's turbine off the coast at Virginia Beach - Credit: Dominion Energy

During the discussions it also became clear that two of East Anglia's other key sectors - agri-food and digital/IT could also benefit from the relationship.

New Anglia LEP chairwoman C-J Green said: “Our energy sector has a world-leading supply chain with more than 50 years’ experience and this exciting agreement with Virginia Beach will foster relationships focused on inward investment, exports, skills development and collaboration.

"The offshore wind industry is in its infancy in the US and Norfolk & Suffolk businesses can share the knowledge and experiences they have gained on the journey to becoming the UK’s largest offshore wind cluster.

“It is also clear that there are inward investment opportunities in the agri-food and digital/ICT, sectors which are also key to our region’s future economic prosperity, and this agreement will enable us to better explore these.”

Most Read

Among the companies attending the seminar and signing will be Woodbridge-based Chorus Intelligence, which provides data analysis software to police and security forces. It recently opened its first US headquarters in Virginia Beach.

Also attending will be Seajacks of Great Yarmouth, which runs a fleet of maintenance vessels which support the offshore industry in East Anglia. It has also just opened in Virginia Beach and is working energy provider Dominion Energy on a new jack-up vessel for offshore wind turbines. 

Dominion Energy's Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project off Virginia Beach will be the largest in the USA at 2.64 gigawatts.

A wind turbine section being lifted by a crane to be installed off Virginia Beach

Dominion Energy's wind turbine section being lifted by a crane to be installed off Virginia Beach - Credit: Dominion Energy