Industry article

What's the latest: UK green tech news

Photo of Jade Brar-Haase
Jade Brar-Haase
Posted on 16 Mar 2023 · 3 mins read

Green technology is revolutionising the engineering and energy fields. In this article, we round up some of the latest UK developments in green tech and the impact on engineering jobs and skills.

The global race is on to lead the way in the advancement of green technology. Countries around the world are striving to use cleaner energy sources to reduce carbon emissions and move towards net zero in a bid to limit the negative impact of human activity on the environment. This has in turn led to a growing demand for critical skills, particularly in areas such as sustainable engineering to design the systems to optimise energy management. In this article, we round up some of the latest UK developments in green tech and the impact on engineering jobs and skills.

Green tech advancement

An exclusive story reported by Reuters news agency revealed a deal that has been struck by Osaka-headquartered multinational air conditioning manufacturer, Daikin, and the Greater Manchester region. The Japanese giant will supply heat pumps and cooling systems for public buildings and social housing in the city. Mayor Andy Burnham recognised the city’s desire to make rapid progress, “Obviously with that ambition around 2038 [the city’s carbon neutral target], we’re a place that’s going to move faster. In doing so that presents opportunities to organisations like Daikin.”

But the opportunities will also extend to local employment with the company creating a programme to provide training, particularly in heating and cooling skills, which it specialises in and are in short supply in the UK. The big benefits of installing electricity powered heat pumps is that they are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than, say, gas boilers. The Daikin partnership reflects the region’s aspirations to become a beacon for green tech, which it hopes will attract foreign investment and create more green jobs for local engineering and technology talent.

Investing in clean, green technologies

The importance of green tech has not been lost on the government, which recognises the need for the UK to compete on the world stage and not get left behind. The recent creation of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the appointment of Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan and her Cabinet seat are testament to the government’s drive to make the UK a global tech powerhouse. Green technology will play a major part, with the government committed to creating skilled jobs in this key specialist sphere.

Secretary of State Donelan said, “The new department has received a warm welcome from the science tech and business communities and it’s now my job to use the department to build on our world leading strengths in AI, life sciences, quantum, fintech and green technology to deliver tangible and positive changes across the UK.” Responding to the news, Tanya Sheridan, Head of Policy and Evidence, Royal Society of Chemistry, urged the government to prioritise and support “small and medium companies to deliver new technologies and drive green economic growth.”

Transition to green energy and renewables

Not to be outdone, Scotland is also making significant strides in increasing its reliance on more sustainable green energy sources. A story in the Daily Record picked up on a recent project involving a Scottish Water (Scotland’s publicly owned water supplier) treatment works at Skellyton near Larkhall, which is using 560 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Not only are they producing more than 20% of its required electricity output, the benefits are far-reaching as around 12% of the 150MWh annual power generated by the green tech will be used by the country’s national grid.

This is a clear indication of Scotland’s mission and intent to secure a low carbon future for its five and a half or so million inhabitants. “This project is the latest in a long list of renewables schemes already installed at many treatment works and other Scottish Water assets across Scotland. Energy self-sufficiency is a key component in our strategy to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and has the added benefit of exporting electricity to help offset carbon emissions further afield,” said Ian Piggott, Senior Project Manager at Scottish Water Horizons, part of Scottish Water.

As the latest developments in England and Scotland attest to, investment in green and renewable technologies is the future. Lowering carbon emissions to ensure a cleaner, brighter future for everyone is mission critical. However, despite some progress, skill shortages persist and there are obvious gaps that need to be filled, particularly within environmental and sustainable engineering.

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