Teesside is ready for the energy sector boom – and so are we

Womble Bond Dickinson corporate lawyer David Ridley, who has a keen interest in supporting companies within the energy industry, reflects on the Tees region’s opportunities within this key sector…

The prime minster recently set out his ambitious 10-point plan for the UK’s green industrial revolution.

The plan is designed to support the longstanding “levelling up” ambitions, with £12bn of government investment being announced to create and support skilled green jobs.

The North-East and Teesside has a huge role to play in supporting this revolution which, if capitalised upon properly, could be key to ensuring that the region and the rest of the UK bounces back from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The PM’s announcement shows signs that the government is recognising the continued potential of the region’s role in the energy sector, including plans to help fund four carbon capture and storage (CCS) hubs across the UK – with one such hub being based in Teesside.

This is a welcome boost, particularly for Net Zero Teesside, the region’s existing project aiming to decarbonise carbonintensive businesses.

The announced CCS hub is an exciting opportunity for the local supply chain and we at Womble Bond Dickinson are passionate about playing our role. We are already helping clients on various issues in connection with Net Zero Teesside, drawing on our experience of supporting CCS projects across the country.

There are many other reasons why the North-East stands in good stead to become a hub for the projected green energy revolution. As you will know already if you are a regular reader of this publication, Teesside is set to be the location for the UK’s first hydrogen transport centre, resulting in the development and testing of new hydrogen technologies.

In addition, Teesside University has announced that it will form two innovation centres: one focused on the development of cost effective, low-carbon technologies (the Industrial Decarbonisation and Hydrogen Innovation Centre) and the other on the advancement of technology to reduce reliance on finite resources and eliminate waste (the Circular Economy and Recycling Innovation Centre).

And let’s not forget the continued importance of offshore wind energy and the strength of the region’s ports, which are essential if the UK is to build enough infrastructure to meet its new target of powering every home with wind energy by 2030. In September, it was announced that Able Seaton Port in Hartlepool would act as a base for the development of turbines that will be used in the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

Womble Bond Dickinson has already been involved in 24 UK offshore wind projects and we are seeing a marked rise in interest in this technology, which has matured quickly as costs have fallen. The Round 4 offshore wind leasing process is creating a particular spike of interest at the moment and we are helping clients from the North-East and beyond to make the most of these opportunities.

While all of these developments are exciting, Teesside’s energy businesses will need the right help in order to thrive in the UK’s projected energy sector boom.

Certainly businesses can benefit from government funding and also potentially tap into funding from sources such as the Cleantech Offshore Renewables Accelerator – established to accelerate SME cleantech solutions across the North-East.

Various bodies in the region offer other types of support. Energi Coast, the North-East’s offshore wind cluster, recently launched a group aiming to develop and support regional businesses with services designed to meet requirements for new technology.

Womble Bond Dickinson is prepared to provide its own support as the UK aims to become a world leader in green technology. Our specialist energy team has been immersed in the sector for decades, dating right back to the first commercial wind farm in the UK, Delabole, in 1991. With more than 60 specialist energy lawyers, we have local, national and international reach and experience of all renewable energy technologies from projects right across the UK and on both sides of the Atlantic.

Additionally, our Teesside and Newcastle offices make us ideally placed to support the growth of this key sector in Teesside.

To find out how Womble Bond Dickinson’s legal team can assist your business, please contact David on 0345 415 0000 or email david.ridley@wbd-uk.com.