Energy transition could be the spark for generational change

Business leaders from across Tees Valley are excited about the momentum and opportunity the region has to use its industrial heritage to help it lead the energy transition globally and fuel economic improvements locally.

The Invest North Tees Valley event in Darlington brought together leading businesses from across the region to analyse the economic strengths, investable opportunities and obstacles to growth.

The scale of the opportunity that net zero presents is especially tantalising for a region with a strong industrial heritage.

Frans Caljé, chief executive of PD Ports, said: “It is the only place in the United Kingdom that is the real home to the energy transition that we all talk about.

“We talk about hydrogen, we talk about carbon capture, we talk about lithium production – we talk about all sorts that you can’t really replicate anywhere else.”

Tees Components managing director Sharon Lane believes the knowledge and innovation that is required to deliver net zero creates exciting possibilities for Tees Valley.

She said: “We have a huge opportunity, we’re ahead of the curve, we’ve got lots of resources already in place – and I think that’s going to be really the focus of our economy in the region over the next 10-20 years.”

Energy is a sector that can bring together the key themes of sustainability, levelling-up, and long-term impact that is attractive to institutional investors.

Tom Sumpster, head of private markets at Phoenix Group, said: “The chemicals industry here in the past, and British Steel, means that the infrastructure that is in place in Teesside is perhaps the most competitive edge they have, because the investment is here.

“It’s already there and when we think about decarbonisation, we can move from steel and chemical industries into offshore wind, which as a pension capital investor, we’re very keen to support from a sustainability perspective.”

Organisations in the Tees Valley are keen to attract greater investment. Hannah Wade was head of investor partnerships at the Centre for Process Innovation before becoming managing director of CPI Enterprises in November.

She said: “The culture of innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship is alive and well in the Tees Valley and I think it’s a great opportunity for the future.

“If investors look at these fantastic opportunities yet accepting the risk of these opportunities up in the north of England and move away from the south of England, I think we’ve got a lot to offer.”

Tees Valley Freeport director Nolan Gray believes now is the time to accelerate to make the most of the advantages the region currently has.

“We need to start backing winners,” he said. “In the UK for too long we’ve sat back and we’ve decided that it should be a competition around every region. But actually, certain regions are good at things and other regions aren’t.

“We are really strong in the hydrogen economy and for me, we need to stop having competitions all of the time around where the next hydrogen play should be.

“We need to just focus on the one region that can deliver it successfully, not just for the nation, but for the rest of the world as well.”


The North is full of investment opportunities and world-class economic strengths. Accelerating progress and unleashing its full potential can rebalance the national economy and change the lives of the people who live and work here.

Invest North is being led by, in partnership with Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Squire Patton Boggs, Phoenix Group, and Lloyds Bank. It is also being supported by the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, Curveblock and Influential.

Through a series of round tables, research and interviews it will identify the investment opportunities and policy requirements that can make a significant difference to the economy of the North.

Visit to find out more.