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OPINION: How East Anglia Hub windfarm will help make world greener

When world leaders converge on Glasgow at the end of the month to explore how to address the global climate emergency at COP26, the spotlight will be on clean green energy for homes, businesses, and industry. Ross Ovens, project director ScottishPower Renewables’ £6.5 billion East Anglia Hub, talks about his pride in playing his part in the solution.
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East Anglia Hub will build on the success of ScottishPower Renewables' flagship East Anglia ONE project, pictured here. Picture: ScottishPower Renewables

COP26 is a summit driven by urgency. We have no time to spare in acting to mitigate against the greatest emergency of our lifetime and the threat it poses to life on earth.

Changing how we all live is key to addressing this global crisis. Solutions can only come through a massive electrification process, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

The combined capacity of East Anglia ONE North, East Anglia TWO and East Anglia THREE, which make up the East Anglia Hub, will be around 3.1GW and will generate enough green electricity to power 2.7 million homes – that’s more than enough for every home in the East of England.

Each one of our 170-strong team is passionate about the difference this will make to create a greener, cleaner world for our children, our children’s children and beyond.

The context behind our projects will be amplified by the focus of COP26.

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I’ve made the move to an electric car, and it’s a move many of us are going to have to make. This shift from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles, combined with decarbonising power systems demands clean green electricity generated by projects like ours.

As an industry, we have worked hard to achieve above and beyond what was asked of us – we have brought down costs and developed technology to produce the resources to power a post-Covid recovery and be the lynchpin of the UK’s future energy supply and security.

Boris Johnson declared that every home should be powered by offshore wind by 2030 – that means offshore turbines keeping the lights on in 30 million homes within nine years. And we can only achieve this plan by shaping the right infrastructure now. However, delivering a solution to the climate crisis isn’t the only positive effect of our projects.

Our investment in clean energy will be felt across Suffolk and wider East Anglia; regenerating coastal communities through skilled high-quality jobs and supplier contracts, and further inland with businesses that work with us or supply our larger contractors, and all our extensive skills work in schools, colleges, and universities, as well as our sponsorship and grants from our planned £2.5 million Community Benefit Fund.

That’s what makes being part of projects like this so exhilarating – the multiple ways we can, and will, make a difference, for the climate, for people, businesses, and communities. And we take a huge amount of pride in being a responsible and respectful developer and neighbour as we work to deliver a cleaner, greener and better future, quicker.

People ask why we build individual wind farms and not one big wind farm? Sites are determined by licensing rounds, shipping lanes and areas suitable for development.

Timing of the projects can be influenced by many factors, such as obtaining planning consents.

Our hub approach is designed to bring home all three projects together to support UK ambitions to meet climate change targets sooner – East Anglia THREE, which already has consent, and East Anglia TWO and East Anglia ONE North, currently awaiting planning decisions.

The hub approach will accelerate delivery of scalable green electricity, recognised as a key priority by the government in its Energy White Paper. It will also bring down the cost to the consumer. Crucially, this is all based on our existing successful track record.

When we built East Anglia ONE, almost 3,500 people were involved at peak construction and we created long-term skilled jobs – not just at our Lowestoft operations and maintenance base, but in the hundreds of companies that work with us and our contractors.

That is hugely transformative and life changing. These businesses have employed apprentices, expanded, invested in new premises and can confidently plan for the 25-year-plus lifespan of the wind farm while making a difference for a cleaner and greener future.

At the same time, offshore wind is attracting more and more young people looking for exciting careers and we now have four apprentices working on East Anglia ONE. From day one, they are making a difference and working in an industry that is constantly innovating and developing incredible technology. It’s a real buzz to be a part of it.

To be able to tell people we build wind farms, and we are doing our bit to save the planet is a matter of huge pride to all the team. I thoroughly enjoy doing what I do every day to bring even more reliable, affordable, and clean power to our shores.

In the next few weeks, COP26 and the race to net zero will be much in the news. We can all be proud in the part Suffolk will be playing in the solutions we will be hearing about.

ScottishPower Renewables is a principal partner of COP26.