ETZ Ltd has awarded grants to 14 North East Scotland firms as part of a £2.5 million fund focused on driving the energy transition and creating jobs.
The Energy Transition Supply Chain Pathway and Challenge Fund provides grant funding up to £25,000 to help companies shift their focus from oil and gas to take advantage of new or existing opportunities in green energy.
Open to businesses based in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray, this year’s grant funding will go to projects covering offshore wind, hydrogen, electricity grids and low-carbon heating.
The Challenge Fund is backed by the Scottish Government’s £500 million Just Transition Fund, which launched in 2021.
During a visit to Aberdeen today, Scottish Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Richard Lochhead said the Challenge Fund had now supported 25 companies in total.
Mr Lochhead said the funding helps to unlock private capital investment in the region’s energy transition, support the supply chain to pursue new energy opportunities and create high quality sustainable green jobs.
“We must ensure Scotland’s move to net zero is managed fairly for workers in existing industries and across communities,” he said.
“Taking advantage of the oil and gas industry’s expertise and ingenuity to transition to a clean energy future will help us achieve our net zero targets and create good green jobs as well as tackle inequalities in our society.”
Grants ‘unlocked’ £5m investment
ETZ Challenge Fund grants range between £50,000 and £250,000 and are matched by company contributions.
To be eligible, businesses must have an existing relationship with ETZ, a not-for-profit funded by the Scottish and UK governments, and be based in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire or Moray.
Project outcomes must also take place and directly impact the North East region.
ETZ said the grants unlocked an additional £5 million in private investment from companies across the North East green energy sector.
ETZ energy supply chain programme manager Freda Miller said 11 companies had already benefited since pilot programme launched last year with the aim of making the Granite City the ‘net zero capital of the world’.
“The fund was set up to accelerate the development of new industry-related facilities, new equipment and existing infrastructure upgrades, including digital infrastructure, and to drive innovation and market entry,” Ms Miller said.
“By doing this, it can support company growth and create sustainable jobs with the result that the North East achieves an accelerated and successful energy transition.”
Boost to North East manufacturing
Aberdeen’s AJT Engineering received a grant as part of the pilot scheme and managing director David Scalley said the Challenge Fund had been a “timely and pivotal resource” post-COVID, helping the company upgrade its facilities.
Already an established operator in the hydro, oil and gas markets, Mr Scalley said the company is now “embarking on an exciting journey into broader renewable energy markets”.
“The ETZ Challenge Fund has been instrumental in catalysing this transformation and is a cornerstone in setting the business on a robust foundation for the next phase of its journey,” he said.
Portlethen-based Cebo UK received £250,000 towards the purchase of eight mobile silos used for wind farm construction.
Cebo UK manager Richard Forbes said the grant funding had been “instrumental” in advancing the company’s energy transition strategy.
AJ Engineering & Construction Services director Graham Alexander said the £250,000 grant received by the company will create skilled jobs and support its electricity grid manufacturing capabilities.
Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire-based PowerJacks also received a £250,000 grant which it will use to invest in machinery focused on electric vehicles and offshore wind manufacturing.
PowerJacks manufacturing and continuous improvement director Gary Caunt said the grant will “help secure Scottish jobs” and allow the company to manufacture components it previously imported, improving the firm’s margins and competitiveness.
“This investment will also amplify our sales into international lightweight material manufacturing plants,” Mr Caunt said.
“Additionally, it will support entry into offshore wind turbine applications that we see increasingly using electro-mechanical technology, replacing traditional oil-based hydraulics.”
ETZ Challenge Fund grants
The full list of firms awarded grants in this round of funding include:
- AJ Engineering and Construction Services Ltd, Moray – £250,000 (Increasing electricity grid capacity)
- Autosub Ltd, Aberdeen – £245,000 (Offshore Wind)
- Cebo International, Aberdeenshire – £250,000 (Offshore Wind)
- Fennex, Aberdeen – £129,967 (Offshore Wind)
- Forsyths, Moray – £84,442 (Offshore Wind)
- GDI, Aberdeen – £94,465 (Water/Renewables)
- Glacier Energy Services Ltd, Aberdeen – £63,370 (Hydrogen)
- Peterhead Port Authority, Aberdeenshire – £221,736 (Offshore Wind)
- Pier Solutions, Aberdeenshire – £60,425 (Battery Storage)
- PowerJacks Ltd, Aberdeenshire – £250,000 (Offshore Wind/Electrical Vehicle Production)
- Seaflo Consultancy Ltd, Aberdeen – £170,000 (Offshore Wind/ Marine)
- Verlume, Aberdeen – £250,000 (Offshore Wind)
- Whittaker Engineering, Aberdeenshire – £250,000 (Low Carbon Heating)
- Woolard & Henry, Aberdeen – £247,500 (Offshore Wind)
A new round of Challenge Fund grants will be launched by ETZ in 2024.
In addition to the Challenge Fund, ETZ is also behind plans for a £60 million Energy Transition Zone in Aberdeen.
The renewables-focused technology and research hub, to be located close to the newly opened Aberdeen South Harbour, has attracted some controversy over its impacts on green space near Torry.