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Energy Central looks to the future with bid for offshore wind industry funding

The Energy Central partnership has submitted a bid for UK Government funding to support a package of infrastructure work.

Energy Central, a partnership between AMF member Advance Northumberland, Port of Blyth, Northumberland County Council and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, plans to use the funding to further enhance its offering to the offshore wind industry.

On October 6, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to support new large-scale portside manufacturing hubs and requested submissions from suitable sites that could support next-generation offshore wind turbines and support ambitions in renewable energy deployment.

Energy Central, the UK’s unique port-based service, investment and growth cluster for companies operating in the offshore energy and subsea markets, has submitted its evidence to UK government in support of its development request.

This includes plans on developing the already recognised offshore energy and supply chain cluster, which includes more than 200 HA of strategic, quay linked development sites. This investment will unlock new job creation opportunities linked to the substantial growth of the global offshore wind sector and directly aligns with the UK Government‘s levelling up agenda, as well as its ambition to provide low carbon energy to every UK home by 2030.

Advance Northumberland and the Port of Blyth have identified opportunities in the upper Blyth Estuary as prime locations for investment from the offshore energy sector businesses. This includes Northumberland Energy Park which is currently extending the depth of its dock facilities from -5.0m LAT to -9.0m LAT, as well as Battleship Wharf which provides access to a further four deep-water berths with 100 tonne lift capacity.

In addition, Bates Terminal which is currently being redeveloped with the installation of an additional heavy lift quay and a kilometre of new access roads, has 4 HA of development land with direct quayside access set aside specifically to provide opportunities for O&M facilities for the offshore wind sector.

Energy Central is currently home to a range of industry-leading offshore organisations including Royal IHC, Enshore Subsea, Global Marine, Osbit, EDF Energy and TEXO Group.

The hub boasts numerous assets for the offshore wind industry, such as ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre, a leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy.

The strategic location of the Energy Central cluster means that organisations locating there benefit from market access to offshore energy developments in the North Sea, including offshore wind projects at Dogger Bank, Hornsea and the Firth of Forth.

Northumberland Energy Park houses strategic energy assets including the North Sea Link – an electricity link between the UK and Norway, which will be the longest subsea interconnector in the world when it opens in 2021.

The Port of Blyth has access to open sea within 0.5 NM with the cluster’s sites along the Blyth Estuary and benefits from easy access to the UK’s motorway network. It also has established freight rail access and has rapid links to Newcastle International Airport and the UK’s high-speed rail network via the East Coast Mainline.

Cllr Richard Wearmouth, Chair of Energy Central Steering Group and Chair of Advance Northumberland commented, “The Prime Minister’s announcement to provide funding to further develop portside manufacturing hubs has been gratefully received. It’s encouraging to see more funding being made available to support the offshore wind sector and Energy Central’s submission, if successful, will help us to further strengthen and accelerate our offering to the renewable energy industry.

Martin Lawlor, Chief Executive of Port of Blyth, said: The Energy Central cluster is already home to a strong portfolio of assets and services that can support the offshore wind sector and our transition towards a low carbon economy. The package of infrastructure work that would be supported by this funding would rapidly enhance the facilities along the Upper Blyth Estuary, as well as create more and better jobs in the North East.”

North East England is a lead UK region for offshore energy and is recognised by the UK Government as having Centre for Offshore Renewable Energy (CORE) status. It has a well-developed engineering supply chain and a highly skilled workforce with strong expertise in the engineering and manufacturing sectors.

For more information about AMF member Advance Northumberland, visit its website here.

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