INDUSTRY experts have set out how Harwich could be poised to benefit from a surge in energy production, but must make the most of the opportunity.

Senior figures outlined how there were big opportunities for local businesses, and how Harwich was ideally placed to capitalise it at an energy seminar on Wednesday organised by Tendring Council.

Work is already well underway on Galloper Wind Farm’s £10 million operations and maintenance facility at Harwich International Port, due to open in December, but during the seminar the speakers identified even greater opportunities to come.

Offshore wind power is playing an increasingly important role in delivering the low carbon energy mix: by 2040 there will be a £59.4 billion capital investment in offshore energy in the eastern region.

Jonathan Reynolds, from Opergy, said: “Offshore wind is one of the biggest economic opportunities for Essex in terms of creating jobs – in engineering, supply chains and elsewhere.

“There is significant potential when it comes to building turbines, something not really done in the UK at the moment, and I have had discussions in China where they understand the opportunities in the UK, East Anglia, and Essex.”

Sean Chenery, Galloper Wind Farm’s operations and maintenance centre manager, said: “There is a great opportunity for Harwich, and if a supply chain can be built around the industry it should get some of that investment.”

“The Crown Estate has very recently launched the next round of auctions for offshore wind sites, and two of those areas can be accessed from Harwich.”

Mr Chenery also spoke about the importance of developing a local, skilled workforce to make the most of the opportunities – and added talks were ongoing with local education providers to run the appropriate courses.

Other speakers at the event included Chris Squires from EDF, who highlighted how local businesses in Somerset had worked together to benefit from the new Hinckley Point C nuclear power plant and what opportunities may lie ahead from more local new nuclear projects at Sizewell C and Bradwell B.

In its TENDRING4GROWTH prospectus TDC outlines how Harwich port is centrally located between the two proposed sites, and could assist with sustainable marine-based transport solutions during the construction of these key energy facilities.

Meanwhile Peter Gudde from the Greater South East Energy Hub who discussed other low carbon technologies and how local authorities can lead the way both for themselves and to facilitate carbon reduction in the commercial and residential property.

Cllr Mary Newton, TDC Cabinet member for Business and Economic Growth, said clean energy is a key sector in the TDC’s economic strategy.

“Our ambition is for local businesses and local people to benefit from the growing sector of clean energy,” Cllr Newton said.

“We want to organise more networking opportunities like the energy seminar, to enable collaboration and partnerships. It’s not just about businesses involved in energy taking advantage of the opportunity but it is how we support the supply chain, ensuring everyone in the area benefits.”

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