The Current Issues & Solutions In The UK’s Renewable Energy Sector
Mike Salisbury, Managing Director & Jonathan Roper, Principal Renewable Energy Consultant appeared on BBC Radio 4’s show You & Yours to discuss the impact that the global economic climate is having on the UK’s renewable energy sector.
Jonathan Roper is the senior design engineer with Evo Energy, which installs a range of renewable technology at commercial and industrial premises.
Interviewer: How busy are you right now?
Jonathan Roper: Incredibly busy. I think we’re now looking at 2024 for booking and installations, and we’ve got a program in the pipeline that’s running through all of 2023.
Interviewer: Can you cope with the demand at the moment?
Jonathan Roper: The demand is high. We are at a stretching point in terms of our consulting and sales process. There are, of course, the lead times of panels, inverters, mounting, system mounting frame, and all the other elements of getting a project off the ground.
Interviewer: EvoEnergy’s managing director, Mike Salisbury says a shortage of materials is also affecting the commercial sector.
Mike Salisbury: We were very used to running a just-in-time business. The major key components were readily available within 2 to 3 weeks. The supply chain now is nearly 2 to 3 months. Plus, some components are on 6 to 8-month lead times.
Interviewer: His company is also struggling to recruit skilled workers. Partly, he says, because of the country’s historical unwillingness to invest in apprenticeships.
Mike Salisbury: Now we’re starting to see the repercussions of that come down the line. You know, people would much prefer to be back, sat behind a desk doing a design job than they will be going on-site and doing a physical job.
Interviewer: Do you have a staff shortage at the moment?
Mike Salisbury: Yeah, absolutely. It’s stumping our growth rate, we will grow only where we can find the right people for the business. It is causing us real challenges. We can find fresh young graduates to come and sit and do the job at the front end with design, technical and support, and project management. But as soon as we start to get down to the site in the physical jobs and work, that is where there is a real challenge, both in terms of the quality of the labor that’s available.
Interviewer: However, despite the pressure on the renewables industry and those willing to adopt the technology, Jonathan Roper believes they have a positive story to tell.
Mike Salisbury: All of the bad news in the headlines at the moment is temporary pain. They’re structural, they’re to do with international politics, and supply chains will find ways through that. What’s happening in the bigger picture is that everyone is looking to decarbonize, to go green, to take control of their own energy. And that’s a slow process. And these short-term pains won’t affect that long-term process.
I think businesses in the UK have a real opportunity to invest in manufacturing and production back on the UK shores. Costs of energy is going up, so there’s more money to be made. We’ve got the skills. We’ve got the manufacturing bodies in the Midlands and around the country to start doing some of this ourselves again. And we’ve seen some startups at the moment, but I’m really expecting more to come through in the near future.
Full episode: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001cxcl