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17 December, 2020 - 11:28 By Tony Quested

£15m grant as Cambridge firm helps engineer UK green energy revolution

Cambridge Vacuum Engineering in Waterbeach has secured £15 million funding for three zero-carbon projects in the offshore and nuclear industries.

CVE’s products are to be used on the world’s largest wind farm, Dogger Bank, as well as to produce small modular reactors (SMRs).

The engineering firm is part of a consortium of organisations that have won an InnovateUK grant to dramatically reduce the installation costs of the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the North Sea. 

This grant is in addition to two other renewable energy projects focusing on the new generation of small modular reactors that the UK government is promoting as part of the recently announced Green Energy Strategy. CVE obtained these grants with support from UK Export Finance.

When completed, the Dogger Bank wind farms will generate enough energy to power over 4.5 million homes every year – around five per cent of the UK’s electricity needs.

As the construction of wind turbines uses a substantial amount of welding equipment, CVE has adapted its latest hi-tech welding technology to reduce the fabrication time and cost of the wind turbine foundations by up to 25 per cent. This new technology could represent a significant contribution to Dogger Bank’s achievement of being the first wind farm in the world to be able to generate electricity without the need for any subsidies. 

The development of this technology required a great deal of investment by CVE, locking up valuable cash and putting pressure on its successful exporting business. 

Fortunately, it was able to agree on support from UKEF, the UK’s export credit agency. Together, they managed to secure a trade loan facility from CVE’s bank to finance several export contracts and unlock the capital that CVE needed to supply both the offshore wind and nuclear projects.

David Evans, finance and accounting director at CVE, said: “Even though our export order book has been full of orders from China, USA and India, the economic disruption that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to get all of the finance needed from our bank.  

“UKEF’s guarantee will allow us to deliver contracts with clients around the world and deliver on the Dogger Bank project.”

Jo Archer, UKEF export finance manager for the region, added: “The UK is world-renowned for the quality of its manufactured goods and is rapidly becoming a centre for green technology.

“UKEF is one of the world-leading ECAs for supporting clean, sustainable projects. Through supporting companies like CVE, it is playing its part in helping the UK achieve its clean energy goals and help the world transition away from fossil fuels.” 

The backing for CVE is part of the UKEF’s ongoing support for renewable projects around the world with £2 billion of direct lending dedicated to supporting renewable energy projects.

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