Thousands of jobs set for county as final East Anglia ONE investment confirmed

Great Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm off Suffolk.

Great Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm off Suffolk. - Credit: Archant

Thousands of jobs are coming to Suffolk after renewable energy bosses made a final investment decision for what will become one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms.

The county’s economy is set to benefit from millions of pounds of investment after final funding was secured for East Anglia ONE off the coast of Lowestoft.

The town will be the long-term operational base for the 102-turbine array, which will generate enough energy to power most of the households across Suffolk and Norfolk.

Work on the construction phase – expected to create 3,000 jobs – is expected to start at the beginning of next year, after Scottish Power announced it was progressing with a £2.5billion investment to build the wind farm in the North Sea.

The development will generate 714 megawatts about 26 miles off the coast – enough to power 500,000 homes – exceeding the output of the London Array, previously considered the largest wind farm of its kind.

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Announcing the firm’s final investment in the project, developer ScottishPower Renewables said at least 50% of the total budget would be spent in the UK.

Project director Charlie Jordan said: “East Anglia ONE will deliver substantial environmental benefits for the UK, it will stimulate considerable UK investment, and it will support thousands of jobs.

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“ScottishPower Renewables is leading the way with its approach of actively working towards a target of at least 50% UK supply chain content over the lifetime of the East Anglia ONE project.

“We have already worked with a wide range of companies across East Anglia and we look forward to working with many more.”

Last June, ScottishPower Renewables and Siemens agreed the largest ever deal for a consented project in the UK’s wind energy sector.

The agreement, for Siemens to supply the 7MW turbines, is the project’s largest individual contract and will support up to 1,500 jobs.

ScottishPower Renewables, part of the Spanish Iberdrola group, aims for the wind farm to be fully operational by 2020.

A larger 1,200MW project won planning consent in 2014, when bosses predicted that three years of construction and 20 years of operations and maintenance could deliver £500m for the regional economy.

They said more than 1,600 construction jobs could be supported in the East Anglia region alone – adding more than £100m to the regional economy during each year of construction.

Last February, the government awarded a scaled-down 714MW contract which guaranteed a minimum price for electricity for 15 years.

The entire project includes a £25m investment for the Port of Lowestoft to be the home of the wind farm during construction and operation.

A Skills Strategy has also been agreed with local councils to develop a skilled workforce for future employment within the offshore wind industry.

It will include funding student places on technician and college courses in the local area and launching a STEM ambassador programme.

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