Engineering renewables to power growth

The NAREC project is tapping into local engineering capacity and expertise to generate sustainable economic growth and employment, at the same time developing renewable energy technologies and creating a low-carbon economy in the region.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

Features such as the development of a 100-metre wind turbine blade testing facility and 1 150 m2 of R&D space are helping the project achieve its aims, with benefits for businesses and residents, including attracting investments and reducing energy costs for social housing residents.

Guiding light in renewable energy

NAREC holds strategic importance as one of the North East’s Innovation Connectors and aims to firmly establish the North East as a centre of excellence in R&D and the commercialisation of new and renewable energy technologies, attracting both international investment and leading researchers and academics to the region.

A breeding ground for innovation

The centre’s investments have included the Incubation & Inward Investment project which supports the development of technology-based businesses and their products, as well as the creation of 1 150 m2 of R&D premises and incubation space for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to test ideas and accelerate product development. If also offers SMEs innovation advice and guidance in developing new and emerging micro-renewable technologies, at the same time providing support to encourage micro-renewable uptake.

The development of a 100 m wind turbine blade testing facility as part of a wider national offshore wind asset is also helping position the region’s ports at the centre of large company investments, in turn generating economic growth for blade manufacturing, development, operation and maintenance and installation services.

Indicators of the project’s progress look promising, with 135 businesses reporting improved performance following assistance from NAREC, 80 gross jobs created, another 152 safeguarded, and £4.5 million of private sector expenditure levered for R&D.

Fewer emissions, lower bills

Conscious of the energy costs faced by those living in social housing, work carried out under the project has also included the development of initiatives to increase use of the new and renewable energy technologies in these dwellings. This is helping the region meet its carbon emission targets, at the same time supporting social and economic inclusion in the form of lower energy bills for tenants in social housing, typically located in disadvantaged areas.

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