THE North's offshore wind sector and its expansive supply chain will benefit from the Government's backing of renewable energy schemes, which will provide enough power for more than seven million homes at record low costs.

Announcing a decision to award 12 Contracts for Difference to renewable energy schemes, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "The UK is leading the way in the fight against climate change, and it's great news that millions more homes will be powered by clean energy at record low prices. Seizing the opportunities of clean energy not only helps to protect our planet, but will also back businesses and boost jobs across the UK."

Energi Coast, the North East of England’s offshore wind cluster, welcomed the news saying it will create new opportunities for the region’s established and diverse supply chain.

Among the projects given the go-ahead are two located off the North East coast, Sofia, to be developed by Innogy Renewables UK and Dogger Bank, which contains three offshore wind farms that will be developed by a partnership between Equinor and SSE.

The developments have all secured a strike price of £39.65, with a guaranteed price to be paid to wholesale generators of electricity, which is 30 per cent lower than in 2017.

James Ritchie, chairman of Energi Coast and CEO at Newton Aycliffe-based Tekmar Group plc, said the region is well placed to support the developments and cash in.

The region can deliver most of what is needed for an offshore windfarm at the design, construction, installation and operations and maintenance phases with expertise in foundations, cables, installation, ports and logistics, training and specialist subsea services.

The CfD scheme is central to the Government's search for low-carbon electricity and encourages investment in renewables by providing projects with a stable income, while protecting consumers from rising costs when electricity prices are high.

Mr Ritchie said: “This is a significant step forward to the UK offshore wind industry, which presents tangible opportunities for North East England’s cluster of supply chain companies that have the experience and expertise to support their delivery and operation.

“We do not underestimate the challenges this price reduction will create, but I am confident our cluster will be cost-competitive to support the delivery of these projects and we hope developers will recognise the benefit of using a proven, local supply chain.

“The innovation that companies from our cluster have brought to the industry will enable these developers to deliver sustainable offshore wind generation and ensure the sector can play its role in decarbonising the UK energy system.”

George Rafferty, chief executive of energy business experts NOF said: “The UK supply chain has matured to become ideally-placed to support the offshore wind developments that have been awarded Contracts for Difference. Offshore wind is now a central part of a balanced UK energy mix and the companies within the NOF membership and its wider network for diversified and evolved to contribute to the delivery of these projects through the application of innovative technology-led solutions and effective working practices.”