A specialist North East manufacturer is aiming to make a global impact with its unique sustainable offshore industry technology with the help of a six-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.
OES Group designs, manufactures and supplies cathodic protection and anti-fouling systems for use in the offshore wind, maritime and harbour industries, and has developed a world first anti-corrosion system for offshore wind farms which not only offers a lower carbon footprint than existing solutions, but is also technically superior and more cost-effective.
OES has just won two major contracts for work on a new offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea and is already starting pre-work on two further large-scale projects in the same area, along with other emerging schemes in the UK, US, Netherlands and Asia.
Its management team has now worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to bring in the £100,000 Small Loan Fund investment, which will help to provide the resources it needs to use its new system on more and bigger projects.
OES, which recently moved to larger premises in Birtley as part of its growth strategy, is expecting to create up to ten jobs over the next six months as its operational needs develop and is also aiming to double its current annual turnover by the end of 2022.
Jack Spoor, business advisor at Robson Laidler Accountants & Business Advisors, advised the OES Group management team during the investment process.
OES was originally founded in 2016 as a consultancy by Managing Director Rob Forsyth, with Dutch Offshore Wind Corrosion Specialist Frits Verbruggen coming on board as a shareholder three years later to help enhance the firm’s drive to expand its design and manufacturing capabilities.
Rob Forsyth says: “Offshore wind turbines are entering deeper and deeper waters, while the structures to support the turbines are also having to get bigger to both support the larger scale modern turbines and sustain the larger loadings they are encountering in the new harsher environments.
“A new environmentally and structurally sustainable solution was required to protect the submerged structures, and in response, we have developed an Impressed Current Cathodic Protection (ICCP) system for installation on an anode cage which allows complete corrosion protection of the submerged structure.
“The system further offers a 95% carbon footprint reduction in comparison to the traditional methods of aluminium anodes which release significant amounts of material into the ocean to offer its protection.
“The OES system for a typical 50 structure offshore wind park will use 0.5Kg of Mixed Metal Oxide for a 30-year protection span in comparison to an Aluminium-Zinc alloy system which requires the release of in excess of 500 tonnes.
“Our system is adaptable to any environment, can be adjusted in response to changing offshore conditions, and in most cases offers life extension at end of life from a corrosion protection strategy perspective, thus giving owners and operators significant technical and commercial benefits.
“The water in the Baltic Sea offers its own technical challenges, but our system will eliminate them with a specially designed Transformer Rectifier Unit (TRU) with pre-determined voltage and current parameters which are specifically suited to this environment.
“The NEL team took a practical approach to assessing where we are now and where we want to be, and really dived into the business plan to find out how this investment would help us get there.”
Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “OES offers highly specialised products in an extremely active and lucrative market, and has the potential to make an even bigger impact with its innovative new protection system.
“Investing in businesses that are focused on low carbon and sustainable ways of working is a key focus for the North East Fund and we’re actively looking to increase the number of this type of investments that we make through this year and beyond.”
Jack Spoor at Robson Laidler adds: “Rob, Frits and the OES team have demonstrated that their innovative approach enhances the sustainability of offshore wind farms while also providing much needed employment in the North East.
“OES Group is set to thrive and it is a pleasure joining them on their journey and helping to secure the backing of our partners at NEL Fund Managers, who we work with on a regular basis in their vital work supporting North East businesses.”
Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
For more information on NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.