David Coppock, head of the Department for International Trade (DIT) in the North East, shares with BQ how firms in the renewables sector can tap into overseas demands for our engineering and services.
Anyone who has ever taken a stroll along the Northumberland coast will have been struck by its remarkable beauty, and - more often than not - a bracing wind.
The way that the region has harnessed this natural energy source and established itself as a global leader in the renewable sector is a lesson in playing to your strengths and making the most of an opportunity.
Adapting to a changing world is nothing new for us here in the North East. Our deep-water ports and world-renowned reputation for shipbuilding are testament to our engineering heritage and ability to innovate. In more recent history, in 2000, Blyth Offshore Wind Farm was the first of its kind to be commissioned in the UK.
An engineering renaissance
The UK now has the largest offshore wind power capacity of any country in the world, and there are many more new projects in the pipeline. This has caused a renaissance for many engineering firms in the North East.
The region supplies renewables businesses across the globe with everything from foundations to cables; provides support services from R&D to maintenance; and our skilled engineers have unrivalled experience in the sector.
We have established specialisms in the integration of renewable technologies into existing electrical grid infrastructure, and are at the forefront of research into electricity storage technologies.
This has driven significant supply chain investment and as a result, built an excellent export capability. To help local firms capitalise on this opportunity to sell their products and services to the world, DIT is able to provide businesses with practical support with getting started or expanding their exporting.
Just last year, companies like Wilton Engineering in Middlesborough, Hartlepool’s JDR Cables, Falck and EEW OSB, both based in Billingham, and many more took part in a DIT-organised roadshow.
The companies presented to more than 20 delegates from as many different countries who were blown away by the capabilities and expertise on display.
The world is taking notice
Wilton Engineering has been quick to make the most of its international opportunities, currently negotiating with customers in Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the USA.
CEO, Bill Scott, said: “Our business built its reputation in the oil and gas industry, which we still serve, but the growth of renewables at home and abroad has given us the opportunity to apply our skills in a new sector and diversify our business.
“The support from DIT is giving us a platform to sell ourselves globally and is building the North East’s reputation as a centre of renewables expertise.
“The world is taking notice and offshore wind farm developers around the world are all-too-aware of what we can do here.”
North East firms have the know-how and expertise to export to meet global demand for renewable energy, and DIT is there to provide resources at any step of the way.
Our international trade advisers can provide bespoke market research, to help firms identify the markets that hold the greatest opportunity, and we have a wealth of contacts on the ground around the world who can provide introductions and insight.
If other North East businesses can take advantage of the export opportunity, so can you. Get in touch with your local International Trade Adviser to discuss the support available.
PD Ports Northern Powerhouse Export Awards, in association with HSBC and the Department for International Trade, seeks to recognise the most entrepreneurial exporters from across the North of England.
For more info visit www.northernexportawards.co.uk.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement