12 North East companies helping the drive towards net zero

Turntide Transport

Formed earlier this year, the Gateshead firm led by electric vehicle veteran Matt Boyle is backed by some high profile investors.

With funding from the likes of Amazon and foundations led by Bill Gates and Robert Downey Jnr, Turntide Transport took over Mr Boyle’s former firm BorgWarner Gateshead plus Cramlington’s Avid Technology and Sunderland-based Hyperdrive Innovation.

The company wants to accelerate the electrification of a range of transport modes, including aviation, shipping and rail.

Power Roll

Power Roll has developed an ultra-thin solar film which can generate and store electricity, producing green power up to 10 times more cheaply than traditional technologies.

The firm – which was formed in Sunderland but last year moved to the Jade Business Park in County Durham – says that its products can be installed on all manner of surfaces, including rooftops and sides of buildings.

It has signed partnerships to extend its reach in Japan and India, and has raised more than £8m in investment, most recently with a funding round led by Maven Capital Partners.


Osbit has been a major player in the offshore and renewables sector since it was founded in 2010 by Dr Tony Trapp, an experienced engineering entrepreneur in the North East.

The company makes major kit for the subsea and offshore sectors, and last month it was acquired as one of three firms to form the new Venterra Group, which is targeting opportunities in the offshore wind sector.

The acquisition looks likely to spark growth at the company, which currently has around 120 staff at its base in Riding Mill, Northumberland, plus a site at the Port of the Blyth.


The automotive giant led the way in mass production of electric cars with the production of the Leaf, which until recently was the best selling electric car of all time.

Around 200,000 Leafs have been produced at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, and this summer Nissan signed up to the Race to Zero campaign supported by the United Nations.

This year also saw Nissan commit to the production of a second electric model at Sunderland, working with Sunderland City Council and battery partner Envision AESC in a project that will create thousands of jobs in the North East.

Envision AESC

The battery plant next to Nissan’s Sunderland factory was the UK’s first gigafactory, producing thousands of batteries each year for the Nissan Leaf.

Originally part of Nissan’s operations before being bought by Chinese firm Envision in 2019, the plant is set for significant expansion as part of a joint project with Nissan and Sunderland City Council.

It recently won planning permission for a much bigger factory on the IAMP site but has discussed expanding further in the coming years as more companies look to power their vehicles using electricity rather than petrol.

JDR Cables

JDR designs, engineers and manufactures subsea power cables and has a history of work in the oil and gas and renewables sectors.

It has sites in the North East at Newcastle and Hartlepool, but recently announced a £130m factory that will make cables for offshore wind farms, which is to be built on the Northumberland coast at Cambois.

The project will create 170 new jobs as well as protecting existing roles within the North East. It has received financial backing from the Government’s Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Support scheme.


A company that is not even two years old, Britishvolt says it wants to employ 3,000 people directly and support a further 5,000 in the supply chain with a factory at Cambois, near Blyth, that will make lithium-ion batteries to power between 300,000 and 500,000 electric vehicles a year.

The firm has bought what is widely regarded to be the best site for a battery gigafactory in the UK and has begun the construction process, as well as signing a number of agreements ahead of production.

It is hoping to secure substantial Government backing as well as looking to raise more than £1bn from private investors to make its ambitious plans a reality.

GE Renewables

Energy giant GE is building a factory on Teesside that will produce turbine blades for offshore wind farms.

The factory will create more than 450 new jobs and hundreds more in its supply chain.

The project was given a boost in the last few weeks when the UK Infrastructure Bank agreed a £107m investment for the site it will occupy at Teesworks’ South Bank Quay.


Belgian-Dutch steel firm Smulders set up in Wallsend in 2016, making jackets for offshore wind farms that can be seen for miles around.

The company bought the Hadrian Yard on the Tyne earlier this year and recently announced a £70m investment to increase production of wind turbine transition pieces.

Government support has also been pledged to the project which will create or safeguard 325 direct jobs.

Port of Tyne

An announcement in 2020 that the maintenance base for the world’s largest offshore wind farm would be built at the Port of Tyne has provided a major boost to the region’s renewables energy sector.

The base for the Dogger Bank wind farm will create more than 200 new jobs and helped launch the Tyne Clean Energy Park, which aims to play an important role in supporting the Government’s goal to power every UK home with offshore wind electricity.

The Port has also set up a Maritime Innovation Hub as it looks to meet the challenges of the net zero agenda.

Port of Blyth

In 2020, the Port of Blyth launched the Bates Clean Energy Terminal, which offers enhanced facilities and the opportunity for low carbon focused investment and innovation.

It is already home to a number of companies operating in the offshore and renewables sectors, including Royal IHC and Osbit.

It is also looking to be an exemplar port featuring an array of low carbon initiatives such as an innovative mine water heating scheme, electric plant and machinery, solar power and energy innovation exploration in tandem with the nearby Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.


Hitachi Rail’s plant at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is building battery and hybrid trains that are substantially cleaner than diesel vehicles for a number of UK rail companies.

The firm recently annouced that it had cut emissions from its plant by more than 30%, while it plans to increase the use of solar power at its manufacturing sites and will purchase more renewable energy.

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Graeme WhitfieldRegional business editor