The Government’s Energy White Paper, published today (14 December), outlines commitments to projects which place Norfolk & Suffolk at the heart of the UK’s Green Industrial Revolution.
The Government’s plan looks to clean up the energy system, support up to 220,000 jobs and keep bills affordable as the UK’s transitions to net zero by 2050.
Alongside the Energy White Paper, the Government has confirmed that it is to enter negotiations with EDF in relation to the construction of a new nuclear power station, Sizewell C, in Suffolk.
C-J Green, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We welcome the ambitious commitments in the Government’s Energy White Paper. Our region has been leading the energy transition and it is fantastic to see the Government’s continued push to net zero.
“We are pleased to see a big step forward in negotiations with EDF regarding Sizewell C. The national recovery effort calls for long-term projects that will deliver jobs, skills and an immediate fiscal stimulus and boost for the economy.
“The LEP continues to work with partners to maximise the project’s economic benefits and minimise the environmental and transport impact on our communities.
“The White Paper reiterates this Government’s commitments to offshore wind, hydrogen technology and carbon capture – all areas in which Norfolk & Suffolk is already leading the way.”
Sizewell C would be expected to meet 7% of the UK’s demand when it comes into service. Estimates say it would inject up to £200m a year into the regional economy during peak construction and £40m per year during its 60 years of operation. Furthermore, it would create 25,000 roles during the construction phase with 900 permanent operational jobs created, plus the need for an ‘outage’ workforce.
The White Paper commits to delivering 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, including 1GW of floating wind.
Norfolk & Suffolk is home to the UK’s leading offshore wind cluster and currently hosts 4.6GW of the UK’s 10.4GW total installed capacity, amounting to more than 1,000 turbines. The growth capacity in operations and development off the coast of the East of England has the potential, with the right investment, to provide up to 16.4GW (41%) of the UK Government’s 40GW target by 2030. The growth opportunity, set out in the Government’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal, could create more than 6,000 well-paid skilled jobs by 2032.
The Paper also outlines ambitious plans for investing £1 billion in state-of-the-art carbon capture storage in four industrial clusters by 2030.
The Southern North Sea gas fields are ideally positioned to play a key role in carbon capture. New and innovative energy technology concepts are being investigated in Norfolk & Suffolk, including offshore desalination, leading to hydrogen fuel production; carbon capture and storage; and gas to wire developments linked to the rejuvenation of the Southern North Sea. With 14% of England’s peat reserves and 10% of its productive forest, Norfolk and Suffolk is already making a significant contribution to national carbon sequestration, and the UK-leading work of Water Resources East is mapping and coordinating natural capital projects at a regional scale, including the huge potential presented by carbon offset and green investment opportunities.
The White Paper also outlines plans to kick-start the hydrogen economy by working with industry to aim for 5GW of production by 2030.
Hydrogen East was launched this summer to analyse the potential pathways for development of a regional hydrogen economy that will support delivery of other regional economic and clean growth priorities. The network is supported by leading businesses in the sector, including New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, and will work with public and private sectors to identify options to deliver a viable route map that sees East Anglia as a leading ‘hydrogen region’.
The Bacton Gas Terminal on the northeast Norfolk coast is already a major infrastructure asset and energy hub and provides a gateway for access of one third of total gas to the British market. There is scope for the site to be developed into a major innovation and demonstration project (Bacton 2.0) for new energy, including hydrogen.
The White Paper also supports work across Norfolk & Suffolk to deliver projects which support the development of Electric Vehicle technologies, promote use of public transport, walking and cycling, support jet zero and green marine developments and launch a pilot Decarbonisation Academy.
In November 2020, New Anglia LEP wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in response to his Ten Point Plan for energy. You can read the full letter here