More firms see Lancashire as their low-carbon manufacturing home

A sharp up-tick in enquiries – Lancashire’s drive to raise its reputation and ‘brand’ as a preferred business base for developing and expanding vital low-carbon technologies is beginning to pay dividends with an increasing number of companies from across the UK getting in touch.

Innovative net-zero technology is crucial in the battle to halt, minimise, and learning to live with rising temperatures and the worst effects of climate change. It is also a major regional, national and international business opportunity.

Which is why forward-looking companies are increasingly searching for good homes for their R&D and manufacturing activities that offer technical and financial support, a modern skills base, plus collaborative cross-working opportunities with similar new or well-established green enterprises.

Lancashire is rapidly being recognised as a leading low-carbon cluster, with a rising number of enquiries from as far afield as Cornwall and Durham, explains East Lancs Chamber CEO Miranda Barker OBE.

“Innovative low carbon firms are talking to each other, and the word on the street is that Lancashire is the place to come for not only a growing low carbon cluster, but real support to help commercialise your tech”.

Widening low-carbon technology focus

This is not happening by chance. Members of the Chamber Low Carbon Programme (CLC) team actively promoted Lancashire at both November 2021’s COP26 international UN climate conference in Glasgow and COP27 in November 2022 at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.

Another extremely important factor in Lancashire growing reputation is that the county already has world-class aerospace and automotive manufacturing hubs.

However, there is now a growing emphasis on the key role of SMEs as efficient and reliable supply chain partners equipped, trained and ready to provide low-carbon support services and take ground-breaking technical products to existing and swiftly emerging markets.

Join us to celebrate CLC’s first five years

At 11.30am on Wednesday 21st June 2023, the Chamber Low Carbon Programme (CLC) Lancashire Business Environment Awards will take place at Mecure Dunkenhalgh, Blackburn. For more information, please go to https://www.chamberelancs.co.uk/services/awards-2023/.

The awards will celebrate the programme’s first successful five years, during which the CLC specialist team has help hundreds of local companies switch from fossil to renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, use low-carbon materials, minimise waste, join the circular economy, and prototype, refine and take original technologies to market.

If you think CLC could help you, please talk to Debbie Treadwell via d.treadwell@chamberelancs.co.uk. Our work will continue after June.

You could be a winner!

We are also keen to hear from companies ready to put their green hats into the ring and be considered for the awards. To do so, please contact Debbie before our 14th April deadline.

The categories are: the Innovation Award;  Public Sector Award;  Sustainable Social Enterprise Award; Circular Economy Award; Community Engagement Award; Net Zero Award; Energy Efficiency Award; and Green Champion Award.

Good luck!

RedCAT

The growth in manufacturing-base enquiries are also a result of RedCAT (https://www.red-cat.uk/) start-up companies talking to and spreading the good word with kindred young enterprises around the UK. CLC and RedCAT are both based at the Chamber’s Clayton Business Park head offices.

Companies with strong commercial potential can join RedCAT on a wider journey to overcome the tough technical, environmental, communication, marketing – but also very importantly financial – challenges involved in breaking successfully into competitive global markets.

Capturing global investment

The good news is that green projects are now boosting UK growth. A new CBI-backed report – ‘Mapping The Net Zero Economy’ (https://eciu.net/analysis/reports/2023/mapping-the-uk-net-zero-economy) says the transition to a greener economy worth £71 billion is bringing jobs and investment to parts of the UK in industrial decline.

The sector now involves more than 20,000 businesses and some 840,000 jobs, the authors calculate. Green jobs pay an average wage of £42,600 compared to the national average of £33,400. The net zero economy is also said to be important in levelling up and solving the UK’s productivity problem.

Underinvestment

But other parts of the world – including the US with its new Inflation Reduction Act – are also keen to capture the world’s green investment; many companies now see America as the best place for their money. The challenge is to “reignite the excitement back in the UK,” says Climate Change Committee CEO Chris Stark.

Another report, this time from Energy UK (https://www.energy-uk.org.uk/index.php/publication.html?task=file.download&id=8423), also warns the UK faces a £62 billion clean energy investment shortfall – equivalent to 54GW of potential wind and solar capacity. Investment in low-carbon power generation, it says, has ‘deteriorated significantly’ and now requires ‘rapid government intervention’.

Otherwise, UK energy security and net zero targets will suffer, with ‘crippling consequences for the country’. The conclusion again is that investors are looking very carefully where to put their capital.

The Economist, meanwhile, sees a ‘glimmer of good news’ in the misery of war in Ukraine and global energy crisis, because many consumers are using energy more efficiently. Last year, global capital spending on wind and solar assets was greater than that in new and existing oil and gas wells for the first time, it notes. This may have accelerated the green transition by five to ten years, it adds.

Meanwhile, the UK’s National Grid Electricity System Operator is planning to reform rules around access to the UK energy system to ‘make it easier and faster to ramp up renewable capacity’.

£56 million for EV chargepoints across the UK

February also saw the Government commit funding for 2,400 more low-carbon electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints in the short term, with the promise of tens of thousands more in the long term.

This will expand the current Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) pilot scheme, boost the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS), and help councils to coordinate their chargepoint plans while working with private operators.

Windy news

There have also been important UK wind industry developments.

– A Bristol project has set a precedent by overcoming planning hurdles to erect England’s tallest onshore wind turbine – 150m from ground to blade tip with a generating capacity of up to 4.2MW.

Owned by a group of nearby housing estate residents who raised funding over seven years, it will generate some £100,000 annually to help the local community with improvements that include draught-proofing homes and providing energy-saving devices like slow cookers,. The group hopes their achievement will give others confidence to do the same.

– Meanwhile, further research shows that the UK imported gas worth more than £60 billion from October 2022 to January 2023 while wasting enough wind energy to power 1.2 million homes.

Low-carbon sources accounted for 82.5% of UK power generation between 27th December and 9th January. However, cold weather with low winds meant little to no wind energy for heating. Unfortunately, from October 2022 to January 2023, the UK had no capacity to store up to 1.35 TWh of wind during peak conditions – enough to power homes during cold days with no wind.

This raises issues of better energy efficiency and the development of energy storage technologies.

– The positive news from RenewableUK is that the UK’s offshore wind pipeline now totals 99.8GW, but it warns the UK’s share of the global pipeline is shrinking as markets like Brazil and Australia expand.

At adds that a 14GW year-on-year pipeline increase brings the UK total to 99.8GW, with projects worth 13.7GW fully operational, and 13.6GW either under construction or near construction. A further 1.075GW are in partial operations.

The Government wants to see 50GW of offshore wind online by 2030. Fortunately, the pipeline projection is twice this. Only China has both a larger operational capacity and offshore wind pipeline.

The Earth rocks

Our home planet has warmed by circa 10C in the past century. Researchers know a lot about the last 6,000 years. But what happened thousands of years before the Industrial Revolution?

New research hopes to understand conditions between the ice ages to pinpoint any ‘slow-moving’ climate trends before thermometers and satellites were invented that could still affect us today.

Planet Earth has a ‘geological thermostat’ it seems. Rock weathering has helped to keep our climate relatively stable for millions of years. But it cannot cope with human carbon emissions. Pennsylvania State University is studying better ways to trap CO2 and slow climate change.

The anomaly is that over a million years, gas emissions from Earth’s volcanoes should have tripled the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and oceans – leading to much higher temperatures. Instead, the climate has remained relatively stable, allowing and life to flourish.

Previous studies have found that chemical weathering can speed up with higher temperatures, taking more CO2 out of the atmosphere, and acting like a climate thermostat. The aim is now to find out how the system works with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Rising seas could mean a ‘mass exodus on a biblical scale’

Sea levels are now rising faster than for 3,000 years, and could bring a “torrent of trouble” to almost one billion people, UN secretary-general António Guterres has warned. It could mean a mass exodus of entire populations, with some nations ceasing to exist.

As a threat-multiplier, this could have ‘dramatic implications’ for global peace and security. He quoted World Meteorological Organization (WMO) research showing that even if global warming is limited to 1.50C, there will still be considerable sea level rises.

He said ‘mega-cities’ under threat include Cairo, Dhaka, Shanghai, London, New York and Buenos Aires. Rises are also ‘a death sentence’ for vulnerable countries, plus many small island nations.

Britain’s ‘shadow woods’ could offer a fast route to reforestation

When William the Conqueror surveyed his new kingdom in 1066, much of Britain was covered with tall white willows trees and alders in ‘wet woodlands’ that lined great rivers.

Extensive Atlantic rainforest on Britain’s west coast were a mesh of trees, boulders, mosses, lichens and ferns that covered the lower slopes of hills and clifftops where peasants grazed their pigs. Today’s surviving ancient woods were enclosed from these landscapes circa 1,000 years ago.

Why is this important? Because these remnants ‘shadow woods’ could indicate where reforestation is most likely to succeed with high levels of biodiversity. The reason is that the components of former woodlands – including important soil fungi – are already in place to support regeneration.

Cacti threatens the Alps

Snow in winter and edelweiss flowers in summer have traditionally covered the slopes of the Alps. Now invasive cacti are taking over. Once again the driver is global warming.

Despite the best efforts of local people to uproot them, in some areas cacti occupy one-third of the available surface.

The Opuntia species were imported from North America in the late 18th century. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time. But a warmer Alpine climate with longer vegetation growth periods and less snow cover are creating ideal conditions for them to spread …

… And that is creating a prickly environmental problem.

 

 

 

 

 

LATEST NEWS & EVENTS