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Supporting Community Energy in the North East

A new report, commissioned by the North East LEP in partnership with the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Durham County Council and South Tyneside Council, has today shone a light on the vital opportunity that community energy projects present in the region. Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at the North East LEP, explains more.

It is with great pleasure that we today welcome the publication of the North East Community Energy Study.

Never has the need to tackle the climate emergency been more urgent and this important piece of research has brought us a step closer to supporting our communities to benefit from the move to net zero.

Community energy projects are initiatives led by local communities, with an emphasis on community ownership, leadership or control, where the community benefits. They can include things like wind turbines or solar farms that have been set up by local people or aim to benefit the community, community groups offering energy advice to people in their neighbourhood, green tariff switches and car sharing clubs.

As a region, the North East historically has the lowest amount of community energy projects in the UK. To help address this, the North East LEP commissioned the North East Community Energy Study in partnership with the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Durham County Council and South Tyneside Council.

The aim was to carry out in-depth research on what structure, mechanisms, models and support would enable the successful development and delivery of more community energy projects in the North East LEP area. The report will inform the approach and actions taken by regional stakeholders.

The Benefits of Community Energy

Community energy projects have typically been developed in response to climate change concerns, as community groups set out to reduce carbon emissions. However, reducing emissions is just one of the benefits that motivates community organisations to develop energy projects. Community energy projects have been used to generate income for social and environmental focused community development projects, raise awareness around energy use and climate change, improve local economic resilience, create community cohesion and tackle fuel poverty.

The North East Picture

The North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan identifies Energy as one of four areas of strategic importance that could improve the North East’s economic competitiveness and community energy is identified as one of the 13 key strategic themes highlighted in the Energy for Growth strategy.[1] Creating a community owned green energy company is part of the North of Tyne Mayor’s Manifesto.

The North East region has a number of community organisations involved in energy initiatives but few dedicated community energy groups. A similar situation is found in neighbouring regions such as Yorkshire and the Humber where there are nine active community energy groups.[2]

Making a Difference Locally

Developing a clear approach to supporting delivery of community led energy projects in the North East, and ensuring wider successful involvement of communities in projects, should be an important part of our regional approach to net zero. This report has carried out extensive engagement with community groups and the regional partners that could be part of a supporting ecosystem for projects. The intelligence gathered will now inform practical steps that can be taken by regional stakeholders to progress the community energy projects that will make a difference locally whilst being part of something bigger.

You can read the Executive Summary and full North East Community Energy Study report on the North East Evidence Hub.

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[1] https://www.northeastlep.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/full-strategy-energy-for-growth-strategy.pdf

[2] https://communityenergyengland.org/files/document/353/1575564696_CatalysingPeople-poweredEnergyinYorkshireandtheHumberReport2019.pdf

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Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, on the publication of the Green Jobs Taskforce report

In November 2020, government published its ambitious ten point plan for a green industrial revolution in the UK.

Focused on increasing ambition in emerging and growing sectors like offshore wind, low carbon hydrogen, and electrification, it cemented government’s aim to build back better from the coronavirus pandemic, support green jobs, and accelerate the UK’s path to net zero.

Announced as part of the ten point plan was the formation of a new Green Jobs Taskforce – made up of representatives from industry, trade unions, and the skills sector – which would set the direction of travel for the green jobs market.

On 15 July, the Green Jobs Taskforce published its first report to government, industry, and the skills sector, outlining the importance of investing in the UK workforce to ensure people develop the right skills to deliver the country’s net zero transition, and thrive in a green economy it creates.

The report is of particular relevance to the North East, where green jobs are poised to transform our economy. We are already one of the world’s leading destinations for offshore wind, and recent investments from Nissan and Britishvolt have put our region at the forefront of the electric vehicle market. Innovations in heat networks and other forms of low carbon heat – including mine energy – also position the North East to become the UK’s first low carbon heat cluster, which will see the region benefit greatly from the growth of the green economy.

So how do we plan to maximise on this unique opportunity and play a central role in helping the UK reach its net zero target by 2050? Working alongside partners in industry and academia, we’re mapping the current and future skills needs in the green economy to ensure sectors in the North East – particularly those with the biggest potential for growth – have access to the talent and expertise they need to scale.

As facilitator of the skills workstream for Energi Coast – North East England’s offshore wind cluster – the North East Local Enterprise Partnership is working with industry and the education sector to develop an action plan to meet the needs of the sector with demand-led provision. Central to this is the commitment to increase diversity and inclusion in the offshore wind industry, and the group is actively working with employers to review their current recruitment and retention processes to ensure opportunities are provided to all.

The Energi Coast skills group is also working on a series of case studies that will reflect the partnership approach adopted by the offshore wind industry, the education sector, and government, in ensuring green careers advice is available to people in all sectors and at every stage of the career journey; reinforcing the importance of reskilling and retraining in creating new green jobs.

The low carbon heat supply chain is another significant growth area for the region’s economy, and we’ve recently completed a piece of work to identify the opportunities that exist both now, and in the future, for supply chain businesses, and what this will mean for skills demands. Additionally, as outlined in our Recovery and Renewal Deal for the North East, we’re addressing the need for investment in skills and training around retrofitting by working with the North East and Yorkshire Local Energy Hub on a housing retrofit skills model.

The North East’s significant automotive cluster and hub of activity in the battery and electric vehicles sectors means it’s well placed as a UK centre to meet the global demand for electric vehicles, and help lead innovation in the sector. Nissan’s decision to open a new gigfactory battery plant at its site in Sunderland, and the news Britishvolt will open another gigfactory in Northumberland, demonstrates the industry’s level of confidence in the North East. To ensure we have the skills to meet the demand, we’re working with the North East Automotive Alliance to address skills development in electrification and electric vehicle batteries.

The North East LEP’s Skills team is working alongside the eight early adopter status T-Level providers in the region to help strengthen their links with the business community, ensuring the new vocational qualifications – which include a 45-day industry placement – meet the needs of employers, and help deliver the skills needed to meet the green jobs of the future.

The Skills team is also working with the North East Institute of Technology, local colleges, and major employers like Nissan and Esh Group, to highlight Higher Technical Qualifications in subjects like advanced manufacturing and other STEM topics, as skills in these areas will be central to delivering the green industrial revolution in the UK.

The green economies of the future offer a huge opportunity for the North East to grow its economy and create thousands of more and better jobs. But to do that, we need to invest in skills – both in our future workforce via schools, colleges and universities, but also in our workplaces, by re-training and re-skilling our existing workforce.

In doing so we’ll position the North East as a major destination for skills and talent in green jobs, helping attract more businesses to invest here, ensuring the North East is at the forefront of the UK’s green industrial revolution.

Read more about the North East LEP’s work to support and grow the North East energy sector.

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Energy Minister visits projects putting North East at the forefront of Net Zero drive

As the North East is poised to become the UK’s first low carbon heat cluster, the government’s Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility, Lord Callanan, is touring the region to see some of the projects which are leading the way in the nation’s drive to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions.

The visit follows the launch of three nationally significant activities in the region:

  • The first, a report highlighting the potential of mine energy for the UK published on behalf of the BEIS Energy Hub Network – which uses natural geothermal-heated water that has gathered in the underground networks of former deep coal mines – in helping the UK to achieve its Net Zero target by 2050.
  • The second is Gateshead Council’s Zero Carbon Heat Strategy, outlining its ambition to make all Council buildings and homes net zero by 2030, though major investment in heat networks, as well as supporting clean hydrogen and heat pumps.
  • And the third, is the launch of a ‘High Potential Opportunity’ to promote the North East and Tees Valley as an inward investment location for the UK in heat networks.

Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), said: “The North East has an existing skills base, supply chain and infrastructure, plus a nationally-significant project pipeline, which means we are ideally positioned to make a huge contribution to the UK’s drive to achieve Net Zero.

“During today’s visit, we were able to showcase some of the globally-important energy projects which are taking place in our region, and demonstrate how the North East is on its way to becoming the UK’s first cluster for low carbon heat innovation, supply chain and delivery.”

Lord Callanan was able to meet beneficiaries of the Government’s Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP); two mine water heat networks in the region are among those to have been awarded funding by Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The Minister visited Seaham Garden Village district heat network in County Durham, which will supply low-carbon geothermal heat from former coal mines to a new development to the south of Seaham. It is hoped that the scheme will be a commercially viable sustainable energy demonstrator project that can be duplicated across the UK coalfields, which contain 25% of the UK population.

Energy Minister, and Heat Networks Industry Council Ministerial Champion, Lord Callanan of Low Fell said: “Heating our homes and workspaces without causing carbon emissions is going to be key to tackling climate change and heat networks are proving an effective solution as well as opening up huge potential for investors at home and abroad.“

These low-carbon technologies are allowing us to build back greener from the pandemic, and as the Heat Networks Industry Council’s Ministerial Champion, I’m excited to see the opportunities they are providing in the North-East. “As a native of this region, I’m well aware of how coal dug from under our feet powered the industrial revolution 200 years ago and it’s fitting that that legacy and heat taken from former mines is now helping drive forward a new Green Industrial Revolution.”

Councillor Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the drive towards achieving Net Zero carbon emissions.

“The proposed district heating system at Seaham Garden Village will use ultra-low carbon energy from the former mine workings.  

“The use of this technology could be replicated in other parts of County Durham, the North East region and elsewhere across the UK’s former coalfield sites.” 

Also on the agenda was a visit to the Gateshead District Energy Scheme, which has been awarded funding to double its heat network, using geothermal energy from a network of old mine workings 150 metres below Gateshead to supply heat to homes and businesses. 

John McElroy, cabinet member for the environment and transport at Gateshead Council, said: “Our work on heat networks and harnessing geothermal heat shows our ambition to tackle climate change and reach our zero carbon goal by 2030.

“We already have a significant track record of investment in heat networks, so this is proven technology – now we need to move across to sustainable sources of energy and roll out zero carbon heating to a much wider audience across the borough.”

Ken Hunnisett, Project Director at Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management said: “These two projects represent the first two mine energy schemes to be awarded HNIP funding and signify genuine levelling up in the North East in preparation for net zero. With mine energy ideally suited to district heating, the ability of our coalfields to provide clean, affordable and perpetually renewing heat should be a source of great national pride.” 

Richard Bond, Innovation and Engagement Director at the Coal Authority, said: “Using heat from former coal mines is an innovative way to decarbonise heating supplies, attract investment, create employment and lower energy bills. The Coal Authority is actively working with a number of partner organisations across the country, including the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, to help unlock the potential of mine water heat to make UK homes greener, warmer and more efficient.”

Also in Gateshead, Lord Callanan joined Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP, Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change who was officially opening Hydrogen House, the UK’s first house to demonstrate the use of hydrogen-fuelled appliances in a real-world setting, at Northern Gas Networks’ Low Thornley site. 

Andrew Clark added: “These projects are not just regionally significant; they’re leading the way for the entire nation and no doubt contributed to Government’s recent decision to select Heat networks in the North East and Tees Valley as part of the Department for International Trade’s High Potential Opportunities Programme (HPO). We now have a completed investment proposition to promote to foreign investors and drive investment into the region.

“We’ll continue to work with government, the energy sector in the North East, and our partners in Tees Valley, to push forward the work taking place in our region which will help the UK cut its carbon emissions and help tackle the issue of climate change.” 

On the High Potential Opportunities Programme, Minister for Investment, Gerry Grimstone said: “Our HPO programme is designed to showcase the best opportunities across the UK to international investors and attract investment that will help the UK build back better.

“Attracting investment into the UK’s clean growth industries like heat networks is critical, and with so many projects in the pipeline and such a fantastic ecosystem, the industry should take note of this huge opportunity. This programme along with the Global Investment Summit we are hosting in October will be a chance to show why the UK is a great place to invest in a greener future.”

Find out about the North East LEP’s work to support the North East energy sector here.

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Research into the North East Offshore Wind Supply Chain reveals jobs opportunity

In conversation with Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at the North East LEP

A study commissioned by the North East LEP, and delivered by Cambridge Econometrics and Element Energy, has reinforced a major employment opportunity in the offshore wind sector.  Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at the North East LEP talks about how the findings highlight an opportunity for the North East to take a lead role in delivering national clean growth ambitions and to create more and better jobs for our region.:

What was the aim of the study?

We already know that the North East is a major global hub for the offshore energy and subsea sectors, with world leading supply chain expertise for example in subsea engineering, design, and fabrication of components such as turbine foundations, pipelines and umbilicals. We also have world-class skills and innovation capabilities, and excellent infrastructure.

We wanted to delve deeper into that area, to understand the scale of the role the region can play in delivery of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, which was launched last year. The aim was also to set out a series of recommendations which will help inform how we further develop our regional cluster to best capitalise on the opportunities identified.

How was the study approached?

Engagement was at the core of this study, with contributions from key regional, national and international stakeholders in the sector and in the UK offshore wind project pipeline. With expert input the study assessed the existing strengths and capabilities of the North East sector, in the context of the existing UK and exports markets.

It then set out the national opportunity articulated as part of the sector deal, specifically in terms of employment and GVA growth based on the current and planned UK project pipeline. This was set out across all the major stages of wind farm development.

Using this information, we determined how much of this national job creation and GVA growth could be secured in the North East in the coming years, building on our existing capabilities. We explored several scenarios for growth in which different assumptions were tested in terms of the region’s future contribution in the UK domestic market, and international export markets.

What does the study tell us?

The study confirmed we should be hugely ambitious in this sector as a region, with a significant economic opportunity for the North East to create more and better jobs and build on its current position as a major global hub for offshore wind.

The study highlights that the total number of jobs created in and supported by the supply chain for offshore wind could reach 8,600 in the North East by 2025. This includes playing a significant national role in terms of the total numbers of jobs within direct sector supply chains, with growth being supported through the national offshore wind sector deal.

Even in a business as usual case, where the region does not increase any further market share, the direct supply chain could reach 3,500 jobs by 2025 representing up to £140m in GVA a growth of 150%.

However, with further strategic development, such as securing a greater share of the operations and maintenance market and specifically developing a wind turbine component supply chain locally, the number of jobs existing in the direct supply chain of the sector could reach 4,600 jobs and generate up to £180m in GVA.

Furthermore, an additional 3,000 – 4,000 jobs could be supported by the offshore wind sector through indirect supply chains and other economic impacts within the region.

Plus, an additional 2,000 – 3,000 jobs could be supported in the rest of the UK as a result of increased activity in the North East’s offshore wind sector

This clearly represents a huge opportunity for the region, demonstrating the central role the North East is already playing in delivering national growth in the sector, and how we can build on this even further.

What’s next?

To help us understand how to drive this level of ambition, the study also presented several strategic recommendations, including around skills and innovation programmes to future proof the sector, coordinating activity across partners, targeting an export offer to key markets, and supporting development of our infrastructure and supply chain.

The North East LEP will continue to work with Energi Coast, the North East’s offshore wind cluster, to work through the findings to help shape cluster development work with sector partners across the North East and Tees Valley.

Read an executive summary of the study. 

For more information on the findings of the study, please contact [email protected].

 

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Contractor sought to develop a mine energy white paper to help accelerate the delivery of mine energy schemes in the UK.

On behalf of the mine energy task force, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, (North East LEP), is looking to appoint a contractor to deliver a mine energy white paper, to help accelerate delivery of schemes in the UK.

Here, Andrew Clark, Energy Sector Lead at the North East LEP, gives us the background to the white paper:

If the UK is to achieve its carbon targets, decarbonisation of heat is one of the major challenges which must be overcome. One option is to harvest low carbon heat which is created and stored within the earth, known as geothermal heat. The North East has particular potential for this given its geology, and thanks to the region’s industrial past, a specific opportunity to access it is now being explored – mine energy.

Mine energy involves accessing the now-flooded mine shafts within abandoned coalfields. The water within the mines is geothermally heated, and if it can be extracted from the water this heat can be utilised in nearby homes, businesses or other buildings. The mines could also be used to store energy in the form of heat.

There are various examples of mine energy being used in Europe from community to city-scale, and a number of projects being developed in the North East are leading the way for the UK. Sharing what we are doing in the North East through the BEIS Local Energy Hubs, a network established by Government for LEPs to work collaboratively on energy projects, we identified other regions which were also exploring the potential of mine energy.

Like any relatively new opportunity, there are lots of things to learn from projects as they are developed and delivered. To accelerate this, the North East LEP has brought together a national ‘mine energy task force’, so far a collection of over 30 interested stakeholders from across the country who share expertise, knowledge and experiences.

The task force has identified a need for a piece of work to begin to answer some of the questions it has identified, and to set out the commercial, regulatory, market and policy interventions which are needed nationally if mine energy is to be delivered at scale. The North East LEP is now commissioning this ‘white paper’, to deliver this on behalf of the task force, with the tender now live.

Supported by the task force organisations, wider stakeholders, and by the BEIS Local Energy Hubs, the white paper will present a powerful evidence base, present substantiated recommendations, and help inform policy and delivery for mine energy.

If you are interested in participating in the task force please contact Andrew Clark.

More information on the tender can be found here. The closing date is 28 May 2020.

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North East SMEs invited to put forward solutions to global energy challenges

Businesses in the North East are being invited to put forward their solutions to global energy challenges, with funding and support on offer to help selected businesses take their ideas to the next stage of development.

The Energy Innovation Challenge is open for applications until 1 May 2020 and is supported by leading energy sector organisations from across the region.

David Lynch, Energy Innovation Partnership Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP), explained: “Through the Energy Innovation Challenge we hope to support small and medium sized businesses in our region to take the lead in developing new ways of tackling some of the issues that are being faced around the world, such as the challenge of providing energy to homes and businesses while also reducing carbon emissions.”

The Energy Innovation Challenge is being backed by the North East Energy Catalyst – a new partnership which brings together organisations in the North East energy innovation, demonstration and delivery sectors.

A series of three challenges will run over the next year and a cohort of up to 10 successful businesses per challenge will be identified by an expert panel. The successful cohort will receive a programme of support to help them develop their solution and bring it to market.

Businesses will also have an opportunity to secure funding towards the development and commercialisation of their business, with Challenge partner Northstar Ventures offering £20k of investment, subject to eligibility, to 10 businesses. Participant SMEs with well-developed business cases will also be invited to submit matched grant applications for Local Growth Funding (LGF) of up to a further £20k.

David Lynch added: “This is an exciting opportunity for the region which demonstrates the added value of bringing partners together through the North East Energy Catalyst. The North East is built upon a legacy of innovation in power, from steam to electricity and now sustainable energy – we are a force to be reckoned with and now is the time to propel the North East onto the global energy stage.”

Businesses can find out how to enter the Energy Innovation Challenge at www.northeastlep.co.uk/the-plan/energy/north-east-energy-catalyst, or can email [email protected] to find out more.

ENDS

Notes to editors

North East Energy Catalyst
A ground-breaking partnership to unite the North East’s leading energy innovation, demonstration and delivery capabilities. Facilitated by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), North East Energy Catalyst partners are: Newcastle University; Durham University; Northumbria University; Zero Carbon Futures (a subsidiary of Gateshead College); Northern Powergrid; Northern Gas Networks; The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult; The British Engines Group; Innovation SuperNetwork; Northumbrian Water; The North of Tyne Combined Authority; The North East Combined Authority.

About the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a public, private, and education sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas.

About the European Regional Development Fund
North East Energy Catalyst is part funded via the Innovation SuperNetwork by the European Regional Development which includes the Catalysing Innovation in North East Clusters project, which is receiving up to £1.24m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

 

 

 

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North East SMEs invited to join Energy Innovation Challenge

North East SMEs are being invited to put forward their solutions to global energy challenges as part of the Energy Innovation Challenge. The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP’s) Energy Innovation Partnership Manager, David Lynch, explains more.

Since I started working for North East LEP in the autumn of last year, I’ve been leading the North East Energy Catalyst – a new partnership which unites the North East’s leading energy innovation, demonstration and delivery capabilities. Leading the North East Energy Catalyst has given me a unique insight into the strength and breath of what this region has to offer and it has been a fascinating journey.

Now we are stepping up the delivery phase of the North East Energy Catalyst by launching an Energy Innovation Challenge Programme, supporting regional SMEs to bring forward solutions to global energy challenges.

I’m excited to be leading a series of three energy innovation challenges throughout 2020/2021, inviting SMEs within the North East LEP area to submit responses to each challenge.

A cohort of up to 10 successful businesses per challenge will be identified by an expert panel drawing on North East Energy Catalyst member expertise. The successful cohort will receive a programme of support which will help them develop their solution and bring it to market.

Our support will comprise specialist business and commercialisation advice facilitated by the North East LEP and the Innovation SuperNetwork, along with leading regional energy specialists through the North East Energy Catalyst.

In addition to this programme of support, businesses within the cohort will have an opportunity to secure funding towards the development and commercialisation of their business. Programme partner Northstar Ventures will offer £20k investment, subject to eligibility, to ten businesses across the programme. Participant SMEs with well-developed business cases will also be invited to submit matched grant applications for Local Growth Funding (LGF) of up to a further £20k.

The first challenge is centred on finding scalable solutions for decentralised and decarbonised energy. Whilst any solutions relevant to the overarching challenge are welcomed, three specific examples are provided below to help frame the type of solutions we are looking for at different scales:

  • Micro-scale: ditching diesel generators – diesel generators are commonly used by industry to provide mobile and reactive power supply for various uses, with hundreds of off-grid homes in the North East also relying on generators for power. What innovative alternative solutions may be available for domestic or commercial premises or vehicles?
  • Community-scale: power to the people – an emerging solution to bring power generation or charging infrastructure to communities is to utilise incumbent local utility infrastructure such as community buildings, sub-stations, or water/sewage pumping facilities as a hub. What innovative concepts and solutions centred around this infrastructure could provide decarbonised and decentralised energy for community use?
  • Macro-scale: commercial energy productivity – key employment sites like business parks, and development sites such as enterprise zones, can be energy-intensive and suffer from grid-constraints. What innovative, decentralised solutions could help ensure secure, affordable and sustainable energy to attract businesses, reduce their costs, and improve energy productivity?

An application form for the Challenge can be found here.

Further guidance for applicants can be found here.

Applications will be assessed by an expert panel comprising of North East Energy Catalyst partners; Northern Powergrid; the North of Tyne Combined Authority; Northumbrian Water; the North East LEP; and Innovation SuperNetwork; and programme partners Northstar Ventures.

This is an exciting time for me and my colleagues at the North East Energy Catalyst. The North East is built upon a legacy of innovation in power, from steam to electricity and now sustainable energy – we are a force to be reckoned with and now is the time to propel the North East onto the global energy stage.

 

European Regional Development Fund 

North East Energy Catalyst is part funded via the Innovation SuperNetwork by the European Regional Development which includes the Catalysing Innovation in North East Clusters project, which is receiving up to £1.24m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

 

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Energy for Growth team expanded through new appointments

Two new appointments have been made at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to drive forward the region’s energy strategy and help to accelerate economic growth in the North East.

David Lynch joins the team as Energy Innovation Partnership Manager and Josh Sawyer has been appointed as Rural Energy Officer.

They will be working with Andrew Clark who is already in post at the North East LEP as Energy Programme Lead. Andrew said: “We have recently launched the region’s new energy strategy, Energy for Growth, which aims to bring new economic opportunities to our region. We’re now taking the strategy into delivery, and have brought in David and Josh, both with great expertise in the energy sector, to work with partners to deliver on our ambitions for the North East.”

David Lynch brings with him 15 years’ experience of working within the energy sector, including roles at National Energy Action and the Energy Systems Catapult, where he managed test and demonstration projects to deploy new low carbon technologies. He will now be working with members of the newly-formed North East Energy Catalyst, which unites the region’s leading energy partners to showcase how the North East can deliver solutions to global energy challenges.

David, who completed an MA at the University of Durham, said: “As the country moves towards achieving net zero carbon emissions, I’m looking forward to showing that the North East can be a centre of excellence in clean growth and decarbonisation through its energy assets.”

The Energy Innovation Partnership Manager role is part funded by European Regional Development Funding, via the Innovation SuperNetwork’s ‘Catalysing Innovation in North East Clusters’ project.

As Rural Energy Officer, Josh Sawyer will support development and delivery of rural energy projects across the North East LEP region, addressing the specific challenges and opportunities that rural areas face, and specifically assisting community-led projects across both the North East and Tees Valley to access the Government’s Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF). RCEF funding is being delivered via the BEIS North East Yorkshire & Humber Energy Hub, including part funding for the role.

“The North East has a large and varied rural area and I’ve worked with communities across the region in my previous roles within the energy industry,” said Josh. “Decarbonisation is a huge change which will affect all our businesses and communities over the coming years and it’s my role to make sure that our rural areas are a key part of this.”

Andrew Clark added: “Everything we do contributes towards our ultimate mission of bringing North East partners together to deliver on national energy policy and bring more and better jobs to the North East. I’m extremely happy to welcome David and Josh to the team, and looking forward to continuing our work with businesses, academia and communities across the North East.”

The North East Energy for Growth strategy identifies 13 themes where the North East can both contribute to national policy and bring more and better jobs to the region, ranging from low-emission transport to heat networks, and geothermal energy from old mine workings.

Read about the North East Energy for Growth strategy.

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Energy and clean growth in the Northern Powerhouse

At the start of November, a major two-day event in Hull will bring together energy sector businesses, policy-makers and researchers from across the North. North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chair, Andrew Hodgson, who will be chairing a panel discussion at the event, looks ahead to the Energy & Clean Growth in the Northern Powerhouse conference.

The Energy & Clean Growth conference is the next stage in an ongoing process of collaboration, as we work together with partners across the Northern Powerhouse to showcase the combined energy capabilities of the North, and to illustrate how the North has a vital role to play in tackling global challenges of clean growth.

In late 2017, the Northern Energy Taskforce published the Northern Energy Strategy, with a vision of creating the leading low-carbon energy region in the UK, with an energy economy worth £15 billion per annum and 100,000 green jobs.

And now, the Energy & Clean Growth conference has been organised by the NP11 – the 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships that cover the 76 Local Authorities in the North of England – to shine a spotlight on clean growth, the new technologies being developed here in the North, and the opportunities we have as a region within the energy and clean growth arena.

We know that here in the North East we have fantastic history and a bright future in the energy sector. Our region is home to a globally important offshore energy and subsea technology cluster; we have comprehensive innovation and demonstration assets; and we have partnerships like the North East Energy Catalyst which is focused on accelerating decarbonisation, driving economic growth and delivering on national policy.

But we are not just looking at this on a sub-regional level. It’s important that we also show the breadth of what we have to offer across the wider North and that we make sure the combined capabilities of the North are recognised nationally and internationally.

The conference in Hull will bring together more than a thousand delegates from the energy sector, it will spark conversations and it will bring stronger linkages between the different elements of the energy supply chain. I hope that it will also result in even stronger links between industry and academia, bringing research into new technologies up front and centre.

The timing of this conference is important. Energy is a hugely important part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy and this conference comes at a time when many Local Enterprise Partnerships are in the process of publishing their own Local Industrial Strategies. Discussion and debate like we will see at the Energy & Clean Growth event will influence how energy is positioned within these strategies.

And of course, these discussions are all taking place at a time when we are facing global challenges on clean growth and the growth of industry. The UK Government has committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the Northern Powerhouse has a leading role to play in achieving this aim.

What we can contribute to the energy agenda when we work together is huge and I look forward to making further progress towards our goals for the Northern Powerhouse in November.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair, North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Energy and Clean Growth in the Northern Powerhouse takes place on 5 and 6 November in Hull. Find out more.