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How Scotland’s manufacturers will play a key role in the energy transition

Jerome Finlayson, Head of High Value Manufacturing at Scottish Enterprise, discusses the significant opportunity for Scottish manufacturing businesses. 

The energy transition will be the single most significant growth opportunity across Scotland’s manufacturing supply chain for decades to come. 

Energy transition has always been a key focus for Scottish Enterprise, but now it takes an even more fundamental role in our missions-based approach. 

Our aim is to accelerate technology innovation, supply chain capability and investment in manufacturing and key infrastructure, such as ports and harbours, with the potential to double the number of companies operating across energy sectors.

We want to work with manufacturing businesses, which are not currently in the energy transition market but could be thanks to the manufacturing capability they have. We can support these companies to diversify and scale up so they can take full advantage of these opportunities.

Scotland's green energy opportunity

With our unrivalled natural resources, network of renewable energy experts and impressive project pipeline, Scotland is perfectly placed to take a leading role in emerging clean energy markets.

There are multiple opportunity areas within Scotland’s energy transition that manufacturing companies can get involved with – but the real beauty is that a single business can supply more than one of these.

A manufacturing business that specialises in welding, or fabrication and assembly could supply an offshore wind market or hydrogen fuel cells and electric vehicle charging stations, for example.

In a way, the market isn’t the key focus, it’s the manufacturing capability the business has – or that it could develop. Scotland is quite unique, in that it is big enough to provide scale, but small enough to provide connectivity.

Key areas of energy transition

Scotland’s key opportunity areas are clean heat, hydrogen, and offshore wind.

Clean heat

With heat currently the single largest source of our emissions, the scale of the clean heat opportunity in Scotland is enormous and presents a huge market opportunity for a wide range of companies.  

Immediate opportunities are likely to be in heat pumps and heat networks due to the New Build Heat Standard (NBHS) from the Scottish Government requiring all new build homes to use a clean heat system. There is huge potential for existing companies operating in heating and construction to move into clean heat. 

At Scottish Enterprise, we have funding available to support businesses with research development and capital support, as well as workforce development.


Over the next five years, £100 million is set to be pumped into Scotland’s hydrogen industry to achieve the Scottish Government’s hydrogen economy visionopens in a new window.  

While hydrogen is still an early-stage sector, we at Scottish Enterprise believe it has a bright future and want Scottish companies to be actively involved in it. There are currently around 100 hydrogen production projects in Scotland at various scales and stages of development. 

Hydrogen touches on many different areas from production, through storage and distribution, on to various end uses; and we have the key strengths in many other sectors that will also be in the frame, such as the chemical sector, electronics and transport industries and, of course, manufacturing, engineering and fabrication.

Offshore wind

The offshore wind sector has enormous potential and is likely to bring billions of pounds of investment into Scotland, so no matter the size of your company, there will be opportunities for you. Whether you’re a small manufacturing company who can make a bolt, or a large vessel services company providing maintenance capability, whatever your scale, there will be opportunities. 

Our experts have identified five key areas in offshore wind where Scotland can play a key role: secondary steel, anchor and mooring systems, cable protection systems (CPS), cables and accessories and corrosion protection systems.  When we look at these five areas, there is a significant amount of revenue that Scotland could capitalise on, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and innovating and transforming our manufacturing sector.

You can learn more about these opportunity areas in our factsheets. These are full of useful information to give you an insight into the full extent of these market opportunities and help you work out where your business can fit into them.

View the factsheets on the Offshore Wind Scotland websiteopens in a new window 

The challenges for manufacturing companies

With all great opportunities come challenges. We anticipate that supply chain and supplier capability will require development and support, to meet the significant needs of manufacturing energy transition. 

Another challenge is the reconfiguring that will be needed to accommodate the sheer operational scale of the new markets. In offshore wind, for example, the components are large and there has been a step change in the volume of them too.

Companies will need to reconfigure their manufacturing operation to more of a ‘just in time’, or single piece flow, whereby they build one at a time and components arrive ‘just in time’ to be assembled onto the structure.

It’s going to require a much leaner, more productive manufacturing operation, that will require significant capital investment, and need robotics, automation and digital adoption to develop capacity and realise the productivity benefits.

But we’re here to support manufacturing businesses to overcome these challenges.

How Scottish Enterprise can support your business

We are actively looking to engage with businesses, to help connect them to the right areas of the support network that we have across Scotland – and we’re working with partners like Scottish Engineering, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise too.

Our Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) is specifically tailoring its services to work with manufacturing businesses on diversifying and scaling-up its manufacturing operation.

SMAS works with businesses of all sizes, across all sectors in Scotland, from Shetland to the Borders, across the whole manufacturing supply chain. It can help your business in four key areas: identifying cost savings and efficiencies, adopting digital technologies, building sustainable change and boosting business resilience. 

Its respected team of 24 practitioners are all proven industrial leaders with a minimum of 15 years’ experience in manufacturing. They have a wealth of knowledge and access to an incredible network of support.

Scottish Enterprise is also co-funder of the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) and works closely with it to signpost businesses to them for help with digital automation adoption and other emerging technology and innovation needs for manufacturing.

Interested in the energy transition supply chain? Our team can help you get started.

Get in touch

We can help you access opportunities in the energy transition supply chain. Get in touch with our team to get started.

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