Barnsley-based power systems consultants see growth through renewables
Utility Consultancy and Engineering Ltd (UCE) designs complex electrical power systems which connect power users and power generators to the UK's electricity network.
Its customers include new-build commercial developments, data centres, housing estates and retail parks, plus a growing number of renewable energy producers constructing solar farms and wind farms.
UCE helps all these enterprises secure safe, efficient and cost-effective connections to the nation's energy network.
In the last two years, demand for its services has grown and turnover doubled with work in the renewables sector now representing 70% of its business.
UCE managing director Paul Leeuwerke said: "We had a tough time during the recession but, since we have re-aligned the business to focus on the renewable energy sector we have seen a steep rise in demand for our expertise.
"Every new development needs a connection to the electricity distribution network whether it is using or generating energy, or doing both. We source the best deals to provide those connections and design bespoke power systems to suit each customer's needs."
UCE, based at Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre (BBIC), is being supported by Enterprising Barnsley, a partnership between the BBIC and Barnsley Metropolitan Council.
The company has increased its staff by five in the last 12 months and now employs three engineers and a CAD technician in Barnsley, two engineers in London, and one in Sardinia - with whom the team liaises via Skype.
Global recruitment has been key to filling these engineering posts. UCE's two London employees are both originally from New Zealand and, in Barnsley, one engineer originates from Spain and another from Malaysia.
Paul said: "We very much support current efforts to encourage more young people to pursue a career in engineering as it's still difficult to recruit engineering talent in the UK.
"I think it has been particularly difficult for us. Electricity may not be considered a very sexy side of engineering but it is critical to modern life and the industry is buoyant now with plenty of work to be done."
UCE has also invested in infrastructure. The company has spent over £20,000 on an earthing design software package and earthing measurement test kit; plus a Leica GS08 surveying tool to help them produce precision drawings for clients. It has also secured a contract to act as the UK and Ireland agent for an industry-leading Italian earthing analysis programme, GS Lab.
Also, UCE has just gained Lloyds (NERS) Accreditation for its design services (from low voltage to 132kV) which means it can now operate as a designer direct to the renewable energy industry - rather than supplying its expertise solely through third party independent connection providers (ICPs).
Paul said: "This accreditation is a fantastic step up for us in this growing market. We are a fresh skilled team with the latest technology at our fingertips."
Recent statistics issued by industry regulator OFGEM show there are approximately 400,000 new electricity connections in the UK each year, of which half are new housing and the rest are generation, commercial, industrial and retail developments. The market is worth about £600 million a year.
Enterprising Barnsley has supported UCE with online marketing, HR advice, leadership and management training.
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