Showcasing our regional innovation and demonstration capabilities

The energy sector in North East England is one of the region’s biggest growth industries and has a pivotal role to play in delivering the government’s Green Industrial Revolution, which aims to create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK, many of which will be here in the North East.

Against this backdrop, the North East Energy Catalyst continues to move forward at-pace and at-scale.  We continue to showcase the region as the go-to place to develop and showcase new energy solutions that are changing the world.  We have seen some great regional announcements during late spring and summer setting a positive tone of optimism in the lead up to COP26 in November.

Investment into the energy sector

I was delighted to be part of a successful consortium bid into the UKRI Clean Maritime Demonstrator competition alongside Port of Tyne, Siemens, Newcastle University and the Connected Places Catapult.   The Energy Catalyst played an important role bringing partners together, it was a team effort and a high-quality submission; a great example of what can be achieved when multi-disciplinary partners unite towards a common goal.  The project will install a smart digital infrastructure to inform the future direction of decarbonisation at the Port of Tyne.

In recent months, we have seen how strategic investment in employment sites and port infrastructure can yield returns.  Such Investment has helped to secure two new battery plant ‘giga-factories’ in the North East, supporting the transition to electric vehicles and between them up to 4,000 new jobs.

Investment in our riverside Enterprise Zones have enabled subsea cable manufacture JDR Cables to invest on the River Blyth, and Equinor and SSE Renewables – the two companies behind the world’s biggest offshore wind farm Dogger Bank – to develop their Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Base at the Port of Tyne. Our offshore capabilities continue to grow bolstered by supply chain support programmes like the Technology, Innovation and Green Growth for Offshore Renewables (TIGGOR) Programme – a regional North of Tyne programme to accelerate technology/service development and new product entry into the offshore wind supply chain.  The second funding call for this programme opened at the end of September and I believe it offers an excellent entry point for those seeking to pivot into the offshore renewables sector in areas of Novel robotics for subsea inspection, AI, Digital Twins, Machine Learning techniques, sub-components or materials for offshore application.

Innovation in energy

Our innovation and demonstration facilities continue to grow.  Nationally important renewable energy technology and testing facilities are planned to open in 2022 at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in Blyth and at Northern Gas Networks, Transport Gas and Electricity Research Laboratory (InTEGReL) which will see development of a ‘Customer Energy Village’ in Gateshead, building a series of dwellings from different generations to replicate the UK housing stock.  The energy village will be highly digitalised, providing world class research capacity to support the testing and commercialisation of new and renewable domestic energy technologies.

Climate change goals

The North East LEP, along with many other bodies, is backing the North East England Climate Coalition (NEECCo), established in 2019. With its roots in the voluntary sector, this broad coalition has adopted a vision for the North East to become England’s greenest region, with the ambition to ‘tackle the climate emergency, reverse ecological collapse and deliver an urgent and just transition’.

The North East LEP is also actively encouraging businesses to get behind the government’s ‘Together for Our Planet’ campaign by signing up to the SME Climate Commitment to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050.

This month, in a bid to further drive the business community’s engagement with net zero, the North East LEP is supporting the #ZeroCarbonTour, which arrives in our region on Friday 22 October before heading to Glasgow COP26.

Plans are underway for a North East Energy Catalyst Summit in January 2022.  The catalyst summit will reflect on the outcomes of COP26 showcasing the best of our region’s innovation and demonstration capabilities.  There will also be an opportunity for delegates to visit some of our world class innovation facilities.

The last few months have seen the North East demonstrate the strength and depth of innovation.  The North East Energy Catalyst will continue to drive further growth and opportunity for people in our region to lead the way in tackling energy challenges.

For more information about the energy sector or to contact me directly click here. The North East Energy Catalyst is supported by ERDF.

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