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NOF and Energi Coast have highlighted the ambitions of the region’s supply chain to play an integral role in the offshore wind sector after hundreds of industry professionals took part in the first virtual Offshore Wind North East conference and exhibition.
Taken online as a result of the pandemic, Offshore Wind North East was attended by more than 500 delegates from across all levels of the supply chain, in addition to representatives from key offshore wind farm developers.
The opening session of the conference featured an address from Energy Minister The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, who praised the diversity and capabilities of North East England’s supply chain cluster and reaffirmed the role offshore wind will play in the Government’s net zero strategy and its green economic recovery.
A series of presentations, interactive discussions and panel sessions took place across the two-day event covering themes including Energy Transition, the Future of the Floating Markets and Global Offshore Wind Markets.
Delegates also had the chance to take part in sessions focused on the projects taking place in the North Sea close to North East England, Dogger Bank Wind Farm and Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, hearing about the range of opportunities to engage with the developments and the supply chain opportunities they will present.
In keeping with Offshore Wind North East’s reputation for providing a platform for the supply chain, the event hosted its annual exhibition, albeit virtually, where 100 companies and organisations showcased their expertise, products and services.
Also maintained from previous years’ physical Offshore Wind North East conferences was the event’s reputation for being the place where the offshore wind sector meets and does business. Utilising the dedicated online platform, the event facilitated more than 400 meetings between delegates, with in excess of 2,200 contacts made and almost 3,500 messages exchanged by participants.
Offshore Wind North East, which was sponsored by Strategic Event Partners Dogger Bank Wind Farm, Sofia Offshore Wind Farm and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, along with Regional Event Partners, Invest North East England and Invest Tees Valley, was organised by energy sector business development organisation NOF in partnership with North East England’s offshore wind cluster, Energi Coast.
George Rafferty, Chief Executive of NOF, said: “Offshore Wind North East bore all the hallmarks of an exceptional NOF-organised conference and exhibition despite it taking place online. The significant level of interactions between delegates, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors demonstrates the value of this event to those operating in the offshore wind sector.
“We have successfully adapted the way we run events during the pandemic, but have maintained the overriding principle that they provide a platform for networking and the opportunity to build new relationships with the aim of securing new business. I am confident, based on the number of meetings and interactions there will be new opportunities for companies to work together following Offshore Wind North East, which was undoubtedly a ‘virtual success’!”
James Ritchie, Chair of Energi Coast, said: “The phenomenal interest in Offshore Wind North East, even in its online format, is a clear indication of the importance of offshore renewables to this region. We have a highly experienced and talented cluster of supply chain companies that are either already involved in the sector or have the transferable skills to diversify into offshore wind, which can play a key role in the development and operation of offshore wind developments.
“We have around 400 companies operating in the sector out of this region and they are primed to support the sectors growth. However, they are hampered by the lack of UK and local content in these projects. That is why we are working closely with developers to highlight the expertise and capabilities of the region’s companies. The endorsement from the Minister was welcome, but we need greater support from government to ensure greater levels of UK and local content.”