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Net Zero Britain: A Just Transition for Oil & Gas and Automotive Workers

Sarah Keeley

By SARAH KEELEY

The Government’s target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 has put the spotlight firmly on the future of two of the most carbon intensive industries in the country: the automotive and oil and gas sectors. The two sectors employ more than 1.2m people and contribute over £30bn to the UK economy, but they aren’t compatible with a zero-carbon world.  

As we move to an electrified economy, traditional workforces in the automotive and energy sector are likely to find themselves in lower demand, as their skillsets in fossil-fuel based systems like petrol and diesel engines, and powerplants become less relevant.  

Green jobs in energy storage  

Driven by the electrification of transport and the need to integrate greater amounts of renewables into our power systems, new energy storage technologies are rapidly coming to the fore. The UK market for energy storage is expected to grow rapidly in the next 10 years, representing a significant economic opportunity for job growth in manufacturing, installation and maintenance. 

As the energy storage industry grows, the sector will need many of the same kind of skills and experience as the automotive and oil and gas industry. With supports for re-training and re-skilling there is huge potential for these workers to make the transition to clean energy. 

Transferable skills 

Large-scale energy storage projects are often complex and will require multidisciplinary project and risk management expertise, similar to those of an oil and gas project. Drawing on the UK’s vast experience in large, complex projects, honed in the North Sea will be essential if the UK is to build out the 30GW of energy storage capacity that will be required to achieve net zero by 2050. 

The oil & gas sector also has a great deal of expertise in health and safety that are in demand on energy storage projects. With so many new entrants and entrepreneurs in the energy market expected in the coming years, knowledge gaps may arise surrounding health and safety practices and risk management. It will be crucial for energy storage project owners to ensure that the risks of health and safety are not overlooked under the pressures of pursuing decarbonisation objectives. 

Other directly transferable skills include: 

 – Procurement 

– Instrumentation 

– High-pressure pipework

– High voltage transmission and distribution  

– Electrical and mechanical engineering  

CEL’s part in the Just Transition 

Cheesecake Energy Ltd (CEL) offers an alternative for skilled automotive workers, by virtue of the reuse of automotive hardware in a new clean energy application. Many of the skills in fabrication and maintenance of internal combustion engines can be translated directly into the production and upkeep of CEL’s zero-emission power train, allowing the workforce to remain productive and engaged. 

The skills and spare parts required for maintenance are widely available in the automotive repair industry which is especially relevant in developing countries where battery commissioning, operation, maintenance and decommissioning skills are rare 

Similarly, CEL’s eTanker system’s pressure vessels, heat exchangers and pipework draw on the UK’s substantial expertise in oil and gas, another sector hard hit by lockdown measures and likely to see further declining employment.  

To successfully move away from fossil fuel production and reach our net zero targets, harnessing the expertise and skills of workers in both the oil & gas and automotive sectors will help to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy and ensure nobody gets left behind. 

If you’re interested in the work we’re doing to unlock a fast and more affordable transition to a low carbon future, visit our careers page and kickstart your career in clean energy today. 

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Cheesecake Energy Ltd is registered in England and Wales. Company number 10317962. 
Registered address: Ingenuity Centre, Triumph Road, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG7 2TU

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