Power systems consultants see growth through renewables

12 March 2015

A Barnsley-based electrical engineering consultancy has seen turnover double in the last 12 months’ and is investing in growth to meet rising demand for its services.

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, is being supported by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough 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 business development manager John Heckingbottom said: “We have worked with Paul at UCE for a number of years and it is great to see a highly-skilled Barnsley engineering company succeeding in the growing renewable energy and electrical power systems market.

“UCE has a wide customer-base and supplies its expertise to new developments across the UK, including dozens of solar and wind farms based in the south of England.”

Enterprising Barnsley has supported UCE with online marketing, HR advice, leadership and management training.

Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £3,015,276 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.

Notes to editor

Attached photograph shows UCE managing director Paul Leeuwerke.

For further information, contact Paul on 01226 249590 or their web site www.powerconsultancy.co.uk

UCE has evolved as a power system consultancy with particular specialism for power generation projects over the past two and a half years. It previously provided a wider range of services to all utility industries. UCE engineers provide power systems network analysis, assessment, modelling, design and consultancy services.

Source of OFGEM statistics: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/electricity-distribution-annual-report-2010-11

The Enterprising Barnsley programme is part financed by the Yorkshire and Humber European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs.

For more information visit www.gov.uk/browse/business/funding-debt/european-regional-development-funding

For information about Enterprising Barnsley go to www.enterprisingbarnsley.co.uk or contact Tracey Johnson on 01226 772648 or at traceyjohnson@barnsley.gov.uk

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