Trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling yesterday launched a landmark development which could make Lowestoft the “wind energy capital” of the country.
Mr Darling visited the town officially to launch the building work for the £9m Orbis Energy project at Ness Point.
The new business centre will be ideally placed to lead the way in delivering the clean energy commitments made in the minister’s white paper last month, as it will overlook a section of the North Sea which has become a global focal point for wind and wave energy.
It is hoped that the building, which will house about 30 businesses involved in the emerging offshore energy industry, could also provide a catalyst for further regeneration of the town’s waterfront.
Mr Darling said: “There is no doubt that renewable energy is one of those growth areas that will benefit not only Lowestoft but the whole of the UK.
“Promoting renewable energy, particularly offshore, is very, very important to us. We have a target to increase the proportion of our energy supply coming from renewables from 5pc to 10pc over the next three or four years.
“The advantage of the Suffolk coast is that there is a lot of wind and the sea conditions are more favourable than in other parts of the country.”
The site is due to become operational next May, creating about 150 jobs.
“It is important that we capitalise on the new opportunities that are here,” said Mr Darling.
“What we see here in Lowestoft is that we have the opportunity to make a double gain, not only in increasing our supply of renewable energy but in creating the jobs which go with it.”
The minister’s proposals could eventually see more than 20,000 people employed nationwide in producing renewable power, and could pave the way for more wind farms like the 30-turbine installation at Scroby Sands off the coast of Yarmouth.
Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: “Our aim is to make Lowestoft the wind energy capital of Great Britain, at the centre of the offshore renewable energy industry.”
The Orbis building itself was designed as a showcase for carbon-reducing green technologies, featuring solar thermal heating, natural wind ventilators and a biomass boiler.
It is being built with support from the East of England Development Agency, the Government Office for the East of England, Suffolk County Council, Waveney District Council and Renewables East.
County council leader Jeremy Pembroke said: “This is all about what Lowestoft is going to be, not what it used to be – that’s why this is so exciting. Renewable energy is a baby sector which north Suffolk – and Lowestoft in particular – is well placed to be at the forefront of.”
By Chris Hill
5 June 2007
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