Black, white and… Green: The North East decarbonisation revolution

£160 million into the Offshore Wind Manufacture Investment Support scheme, £18 million towards tackling carbon emissions in the Green New Deal Fund, and £1 billion investment to create a Nissan gigafactory to support the next generation of electric vehicle production: just a few of the green projects among the £2.7 billion invested into renewable energy in the North East.

The last decade has cemented the North East of England as a European centre for green innovation, and an influx of investment to encourage specialist engineering skills means the region continues to future-proof itself to drive the UK’s decarbonisation agenda.

Using the infrastructure and expertise developed in the shipyards, the North East now services various aspects of the global offshore renewables and oil sectors with ease. Couple this with the region’s expertise in design, engineering and the manufacturing of subsea technologies, and it’s understandable why this part of the country is considered a leading cluster in green offshore energy.

One example of offshore wind manufacturing investment is Dogger Bank in the North Sea, which is already set to house the UK’s largest planned offshore wind farm – all 140km of it – and hundreds of acres on both sides of the Port of Tyne have been set aside for further green energy businesses.

This rush of attraction and investment will create an influx of green jobs in the region, with the wind industry believing that in the next five years, jobs in the offshore sector could balloon from 26,000 to 70,000 – most of which will be based in the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland.

Unsurprisingly, companies are already latching on to the market opportunities, with industry heavyweights Equinor (Norway) and SSE Renewables (Ireland) making their presence known. And with this success comes inspiration of a next generation, and North East entrepreneurs are wanting a slice of the action. Here are some of the most promising companies providing renewable energy from the region:

A major player in the offshore and renewables sector since it was founded in 2010, Osbit makes kit for the subsea and offshore sectors. In 2021, it was acquired as one of three firms to form Venterra Group, a company which is targeting opportunities in the offshore wind sector. With a recent influx of key promotions in its senior team and business development roles, Osbit is entering into a significant growth period, making now a poignant time for the business.

A significant amount of Osbit’s growth is internal, with promotion within favoured over external hiring. Joint managing directors Brendon Hayward and Robbie Blakeman recently announced that this was a conscious decision, to ensure current growth trajectory continues in a sustainable manner while delivering best in class service. This is an indication of the expertise rife within the company at a time where engineering in offshore energy is at its highest demand in the region as Dogger Bank progresses. Watch this space.

Power Roll
Power Roll is the firm behind the development of an ultra-thin solar film which can generate and store electricity, producing green power up to 10 times more cheaply than traditional technologies.

The firm states that its products can be installed on all manner of surfaces, including rooftops and sides of buildings and has recently signed partnerships to extend its reach in Japan and India. In September of 2021, the County Durham based company launched a project to bring solar generation to millions of people in sunny climates in flats for the first time, placing solar panels in blinds. This project is a potentially game-changing move, and will place Power Roll at the forefront of an all encompassing adoption of solar panels. What we once believed could only be used on the roofs of buildings has now been opened up to flats, allowing people to generate power by simply drawing their blinds. The company secured a further £2.5 million investment just before Christmas (in addition to its previous £5.8m funding round), and the company is firmly growing its overseas business as well as its County Durham base.

A low carbon future will be mineral intensive, as clean energy technology requires more materials than current fossil-fuel based electricity generation technology does. Offshore resources are plentiful, with minerals unburied, lying on the surface of the seabed. The new clean energy technologies will require large investments in mineral-intensive electrified infrastructure grids – something Wallsend-based, SMD is no stranger to.

What began as a small, family owned business has grown to be one of the largest subsea vehicle system manufacturers in the world, starting from the shipbuilding town of Wallsend in Newcastle. When it comes to mineral excavation, SMD is at the top of its game, having designed and built the world’s first deep-sea mineral recovery vehicles and accompanying equipment.

Last year, SMD made several changes to its leadership team, bringing on new CEO, Julian Zhu to the fold and announced a significant partnership with subsea excavation specialist, Dubai-based Seajet Systems (SJS), which will see SMD exclusively building the most advanced fleet of equipment available in the market. Innovation is flourishing and industry eyes are on SMD because of it.

The North East’s subsea sector is at the forefront of innovation as the UK transitions to clean growth and responds to emerging energy challenges. As the largest cluster of underwater engineering and manufacturing for the offshore wind, oil and gas industries across England, the region boasts unrivalled expertise and companies like SMD are integral to the sector’s green energy transition.

If your business is looking for support promoting its role as part of the decarbonisation revolution get in touch with our team today.

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