Ravneet Kaur, innovation manager, ORE Catapult

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Supporting SMEs is key to driving the renewable revolution

The UK is in the midst of a renewable energy revolution. This was highlighted in analysis which found that emissions from the power sector have fallen from 161 million metric tonnes in 2010, to just 54 million in 2019, largely as a result of embracing clean alternatives to coal and gas. This is the fastest rate of decarbonisation over the last decade in the world and with further steps, such as the removal of the block against onshore wind projects, being taken, the green transformation of our society looks set to continue.

Whilst this is vital to ensuring the UK is tackling the climate crisis and meeting carbon targets, there are still challenges to overcome to ensure we are making the most of this power. We are all aware that our traditional energy infrastructure needs futureproofing to ensure it is fit for purpose and ready to incorporate the increasing volume of energy generated from renewable sources, as well as tackling challenges such as intermittency and demand-led supply.

This increasing pressure on our electrical infrastructure means it is vital innovative solutions are found, and there are many businesses, particularly SMEs, that are taking on this challenge. Lots of companies are finding answers to the electrical infrastructure issues, but there are sometimes challenges to overcome to bring these solutions to life.

At the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult we recognise the challenges SMEs face to gain access to business and technical support. This is why we developed the Grid Connection Support Series (GCSS)*, a free to access programme of support and advisory services for SMEs (primarily in the North East of England) seeking to grow and innovate in grid related products and services. The GCSS provides business, technical, regulatory and compliance support (including G99 regulations), as well as advice on how to apply for funding and investment.

To date, the programme has been a huge success, with the GCSS enabling over 50 SMEs to harness tools and expert support they wouldn’t have had access to otherwise and gain specialist knowledge transfer from technical experts overcoming a significant roadblock to developing the technologies of the future. After seeing how much businesses participating in the GCSS have benefitted from the support it provides, we plan to continue the series to ensure that as many SMEs as possible can take advantage of the programme.

It’s important that the UK is ready to make the most of its renewable energy. Supporting businesses is vital to ensuring we have the infrastructure in place to harness this power. Through providing SMEs with access to knowledge and tools like the GCSS, we can secure Britain’s place as a clean, green nation now and in the future.

To find out more about the Grid Connection Support Series, head to https://ore.catapult.org.uk/stories/egrid/ and contact the team to find out how we can help you.

*Free support is available as a result of ORE Catapult installing an electric power converter system – ‘eGrid’ – capable of performing grid emulation for a wide range of research and test purposes. As a result of being part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), ORE Catapult is able to provide UK SMEs the Grid Connection Support Series, free-of-charge for up to 12 hours per participating organisation

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