UK’s Freeport East welcomes report highlighting critical role of Bathside Bay to support offshore wind

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Freeport East welcomes a new report from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE Catapult)  as an important contribution to help accelerate the upgrades required to UK port infrastructure to support commercial-scale floating offshore wind deployment.

The report focuses on port infrastructure issues and proposes pathways for economic growth including models for increased Government funding support which is considered critical to ensure the UK captures the benefits of this new energy sector.

Offshore wind is critical to achieving the UK Government’s Net Zero targets, improved energy security and lower electricity bills but risks being derailed by a lack of port capacity. The uncertainty surrounding the development pipeline, with multiple different projects, developers and their supply chains all competing for Government support, makes expanding port capacity difficult. If the UK fails to address this issue, it risks losing out on the economic benefits of the green energy transition with ports and businesses in continental Europe positioned to capture the market.

Steve Beel, Freeport East’s Chief Executive, commented on the significant role Bathside Bay in Harwich could play in addressing the challenge. He said, “The UK cannot deliver the range of economic benefits of achieving Net Zero without offshore wind and cannot achieve offshore wind expansion without a significant step up in port capacity. The problems are similar for both floating and fixed offshore wind. Freeport East is positioned to support both and we are actively engaged in this important discussion, facilitating private sector investments into our ports.

“Freeport East welcomes ORE’s contribution to the debate, their emphasis on the urgency of the issue as well as the need for multiple port solutions around the UK. Freeport East Harwich offers a unique combination of advantages, including local experience, land availability, planning arrangements, water depth and proximity to the North Sea, making it an ideal location for manufacturing and installation for both floating and bottom-fixed offshore wind projects.

“With over 5GW of upcoming projects off the East Anglia coast alone and the southern North Sea being viewed as a clean energy hub for both the UK and Europe, the opportunities for Harwich and the wider area are significant”

The report raises barriers to investment, factors affecting competitiveness, and ways to mitigate risks. It aims to facilitate private sector investment in support of floating wind deployment through 2030 and beyond, crucial for the UK’s renewable energy goals.

The UK has set ambitious targets for offshore wind development, aiming to achieve 50GW by 2030, including up to 5GW of floating offshore wind capacity.

Bathside Bay, located at Harwich International Port, has already secured planning permission for the development of a new container terminal. Phase 1 of this project started in 2022 on existing land, and the next phase involves reclaiming the bay and constructing the quay wall, resulting in the creation of up to 122 hectares of new port land.

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