If it wasn't clear enough already, the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report earlier this month has underlined the urgency with which the climate change threat must be addressed.

The 'Energy Transition' has been spoken about often enough, and progress is being made, but we are now at the point where the pace of that action has to accelerate.

Our ability to deal with climate change and reduce carbon emissions lies in innovating, pivoting and investing; specifically in the field of cleantech (or greentech as it's also known) - technology that reduces our impact on the environment.

In Aberdeen and the North east, there are various strands of activity happening that demonstrate an appetite to play a central role in that journey.

In the oil industry – perhaps one of the most challenging arenas for carbon reduction - progress can be seen through capital investment and diversification, with the likes of Equinor on target for increasing its revenues from renewables to 50% by 2030, and French giant Total investing heavily in renewables and underlining this commitment by rebranding to Total Energies (emphasis on the plural). In the oilfield services sector too, the direction of travel is obvious, with companies moving into adjacent sectors (such as from offshore oil & gas to offshore wind), as well as transactional activity to achieve more radical pivots, and give companies a credible competency in cleantech, hydrogen or achieving other decarbonising objectives.

Private equity houses are also being pushed towards clean investments. There is inevitably a range of timescales within which different investment firms are moving towards net zero, but the mix of governmental pressure and consumer sentiment is powerful. Where there once was a commitment to oil and gas, there are some who have shifted to focus solely on cleantech. For example, Bill Gates has established a multi-billion dollar Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund to invest in cleantech start-ups; and private equity investors like Energy Ventures (which previously specialised in oil & gas technology) will now invest only in companies with net zero carbon commitments.

With the challenge of net zero being a global one, the size of the market for the solutions that will help to achieve it is a potentially massive prize; and that is the financial driver fuelling the current boom in green investing.

The local ecosystem, created to help nurture the development of new technologies, is one of the most encouraging aspects of this whole evolution.

The Oil and Gas Technology Centre – now renamed the Net Zero Technology Centre to reflect its own existential pivot – has its sights set on putting Aberdeen on the map as a hub for cleantech pioneers. Its TechX accelerator programme, supporting tech start-ups through funding, mentorship and sharing of business skills will be solely focused on supporting cleantech entrepreneurs from 2022  onwards.

The city's two universities too, are hives of innovation with the University of Aberdeen's Centre for Energy Transition and RGU's IDEAS Research Institute using their research capacities to investigate cleantech that can be deployed across multiple sectors. The generous support of Opportunity North East and Code Base to provide space and facilitate funding has also been a boon to the region's start-ups.

Considering all these elements collectively, the drive and the willingness to be part of the acceleration towards net zero is a positive sight to see. The solid industrial skills base, combined with innovation and the right support, demonstrates that our region can build upon proud foundations. The future should not be one of moth-balling productive operations, but of building on them, so that the North east can flourish with these additional future opportunities.

This article originally appeared in the Press and Journal.


Martin Ewan


Greg Costello

Senior Associate