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Wales: Renewables and low carbon supply chain to benefit from new normal

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‘Buy local’ has been a clear theme for people over recent months with an increased sense of community taking hold during pandemic restrictions – not least because of the inability to travel. As many have been opting to spend their money supporting local businesses, it is hoped that this trend will not be short lived.

And, as individuals rediscover local suppliers it is also hoped that the business to business sector can also benefit from this renewed local focus. In north Wales many believe that this has potential for the renewables and low carbon supply chain in particular.

Of course, the idea of supporting and developing local supply chains is nothing new. This has long been the mission of many involved in promoting economic development in rural or peripheral areas like north Wales where the economy has historically been dependant on tourism and leisure.

With new challenges facing economies world wide as well as our ways of working, it seems the time may now be right to increase the focus on strengthening these supply chains. The benefits to local business and skills are clear but there are knock-on positives which shouldn’t be ignored – crucially for the climate and the environment.

As Manging Director of Menai Science Park (M-SParc) in north Wales, Pryderi ap Rhisiart is at the heart of work being done to support businesses in rural areas. He is keen to share his vision in this respect and why we should be thinking differently about how supply chain for non-traditional industries can now play a key part in economic recovery.

“Technology, digital and low carbon are not usually what spring to mind when you think about the rural economy, but we must now look to these sectors as we adapt to the future and ensure we are more robust to face emerging challenges. Anglesey and the wider north Wales area is fast becoming a key player in renewable energy and low carbon and we must capitalise on this.

“The pandemic has taught us many things – no longer do we have to be based in large urban centres to be viable in business; and our tendency to be over dependent on certain sectors including tourism, in places like Ynys Môn has been exposed.

“North Wales is already the location for several low carbon energy projects, including tidal energy schemes as well as major off-shore wind farms, with additional proposals in the pipeline. We also have expertise and knowledge at Bangor University. The opportunities are already here – what we need to do is ensure that our local businesses and workforce can benefit as much as possible from new developments and innovation.”

Manging Director of Menai Science Park

As well as being a centre for research and innovation projects M-SParc is also home to many low carbon businesses and those who already supply renewable energy projects. One of those businesses is Papertrail – a home-grown company. It has customers worldwide but is equally proud of its local customer base which include Llanberis-based DMM and Innogy wind power.

“Papertrail was created out of the need to find easier ways to keep accurate records and demonstrate compliance. We help clients manage PPE and health and safety inspections globally but many of our customers are right here in north Wales and we want to expand on this.

“With Wales’s growing reputation for sustainable use of natural resources and renewable energy – it was the perfect location for us to set up our business. It also meant I could stay close to where I was brought up to live and work.

“We are already working with Innogy, on their innovative Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm. The technology they use there barely existed a decade ago, yet today it is helping to power thousands of Welsh homes, with a little help from us at Papertrail.

“With new marine and wind energy projects on the horizon and the potential offered through a small modular reactor at Trawsfynydd we’re excited for what the future holds – not just for us as a business but also other local companies who can be part of the supply chain for this growing sector.”

Ben Scholes Papertrail company founder

Animated Technologies and software developer Zero Dependency are two other M-SParc tenants who are involved in the high tech and low carbon sectors. Both businesses provide services to clients across the UK as well as closer to home in north Wales.

Arnes Biogradlija
Creative Content Director at EnergyNews.Biz

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