take advantage of export opportunities


This year, the government will host COP26, the UN’s global climate change conference, and explain how we will achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

To help drive this green energy revolution, how can UK companies take advantage of growing export opportunities both here and in overseas markets?

Alistair McMillan and Rachel Ashley, UK Export Finance Managers (EFM) focused on renewables and clean tech from UK export credit agency UK Export Finance (UKEF), analyze available support and the actions to be taken. Alistair and Rachel help connect SMEs with support from UKEF.

Q: Why should companies view the renewable energy supply chain as an opportunity?

Alistair McMillan (UK Export Finance Manager, Scotland): The UK energy sector is an important source of skilled jobs, and there is a growing demand for renewable energy overseas. Companies can harness this potential, strengthen their position on the global stage, contribute to the green energy revolution and grow their own business at the same time.

Q: What kind of companies could make the transition to renewable energy exports?

Rachel Ashley (UK Export Finance Manager, North of England): There are many kinds of skills, specialized equipment and new technologies needed to build the next generation of wind farms, solar power, hydrogen power plants and EfW, so there are a lot of opportunities to be involved.

Companies based in the North West, East, Yorkshire and Humber regions and Scotland have the necessary expertise and can play a leading role in supplying overseas markets as they transition to energy. clean.

The UK has led the way in developing large-scale offshore wind developments, so other countries starting this journey can benefit from a lot of knowledge and expertise.

Q: What will this mean for companies operating in the oil and gas industry?

Alistair: The offshore oil and gas industry has been an important industry for the UK in the past with many qualified people working in the sector such as geologists, project managers, engineers and manufacturers. These skills are all transferable throughout the energy sector.

The recent and historic North Sea Transition Agreement – a transformative partnership between the UK government and the oil and gas industry – will help deliver crucial aspects of the green energy revolution while supporting workers, businesses and the supply chain throughout the transition.

Q: What role does UK Export Finance play?

Alistair: UKEF exists to ensure that no viable UK export fails for lack of funding or insurance, working with banks, brokers and other financial institutions to support our export activities. It’s an exciting place right now, with a new, more flexible range of support and a particular focus on renewable and clean growth sectors. We are actively taking market feedback into account, reviewing product innovation and becoming more of a business development oriented organization to ensure we can fully support the clean growth transition and help UK exporters take advantage of opportunities abroad.

Q: Who are responsible for financing the exports?

Rachel: There are 26 Export Finance Managers spread across the UK and we work closely with representatives from local banks, industry bodies and businesses in our geographies to ensure the right support is provided. if needed. In the area of ​​renewable energy and clean technology, Alistair and I are working in key sectors to ensure that companies are fully aware of the range of support available to ensure that exporters are able to capture a growing portfolio of global clean growth opportunities.

Q: How can UKEF help companies in the renewable energy and clean growth sectors?

Alistair: Our proven products, which provide working capital and contract support, are as relevant to exporting companies in these sectors as any other. In the renewable energy sector, we also have an additional £ 2bn available for direct loans to overseas projects to create export opportunities for UK businesses. Our general export facility and more flexible export development guarantees can also allow companies to access the funds they need to take advantage of export opportunities in these sectors.

Rachel: Most importantly, our guarantees to banks can free up additional lending capacity to support much-needed working capital and reduce the amount of liquidity needed to secure contractual obligations. We want to allow companies to accept larger additional contracts in order to develop their export activities. When export credit insurance is not available through the private market, we can also protect businesses from buyer default protection, which is especially important for businesses in transition.

Q: What would you say to a company looking to export and having problems accessing the right financing or insurance?

Alistair: On the finance side, I would say make sure you’re talking to the right people at your bank. Make sure that the Trade Finance specialist is engaged and that you increase the potential of our support with your banker. They are very busy people who do not deal with exporting companies all the time, so these avenues could be missed if they are not raised. Obviously for both finance and insurance talk to me in Scotland, Rachel in the north of England or your local early stage export finance manager. We also have an extensive network of alternative finance providers and brokers if your current bank is unable to help.

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