The port at Great Yarmouth in East Anglia has invested almost £10m (€12.4m) this year in improvements to its outer harbour, making it more suitable for large vessels serving the offshore wind and oil and gas industries.
The most important upgrade completed at Eastport has been a narrowing of the entrance to the outer harbour. This is designed to reduce wave energy within the harbour and to attract barges and other large vessels used by the offshore wind sector.
"Our future is in supporting the energy sector," explained Eastport's chief executive, Jamie Frater, told Windpower Offshore. The port has already hosted vessels involved in the construction of Sheringham Shoal and Lincs as well as, several years ago, Scroby Sands.
The strength of Eastport lies in its range of facilities, which includes the non-tidal outer harbour and a substantial river port. This makes it suitable for offshore wind construction vessels, as well as companies involved in offshore wind manufacturing and operations and maintenance (O&M), says Frater.
A significant amount of offshore wind development is planned for UK waters close to Eastport, including the 7.2GW Round 3 East Anglia zone and a series of Round 2 projects: 560MW Dudgeon, 580MW Racebank and the two-phase Triton Knoll, which could be of up to 1.2GW capacity.
Eastport is privately owned by International Port Holdings (IPH), which also owns the port of Brisbane in Australia. IPH is, in turn, owned by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), whose assets include London Gatwick, London City and Edinburgh airports. GIP is a New York-headquartered investment fund with some renewable energy assets, but none in the wind sector.