UK low-carbon exports to hit £30bn by 2020

Suzie Neuwirth
THE UK’S low-carbon exports could rise to £30bn by 2020 if smaller companies are given more government support, according to a new report commissioned by energy giant Shell.

To triple the country’s exports of low-carbon goods and services by the end of the decade, the study identifies a £15bn annual opportunity in four promising markets – Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and Turkey.

These markets were picked for sharing favourable regulatory environments and a strong demand for low-carbon offerings.

Smaller and medium-sized companies will play a key part in this growth, according to the report, which was undertaken by the Carbon Trust.

But nearly one in four low-carbon SMEs cite raising capital as the primary barrier to exporting, while early-stage funding for the sector has contracted by 50 per cent over the last two years.

The report, which launches today to coincide with the Shell Springboard awards that provide funding for low-carbon businesses, calls for the government to redirect some financial support to low-carbon SMEs and for government departments to come together to provide more integrated support packages to help unlock growth in emerging markets.

“Low-carbon innovation among SMEs is leading to impressive commercial success and their performance offers the UK a significant export advantage,” Matthew Tipper, vice president of alternative energies at FTSE 100-listed Shell, said in a statement.

“Large companies have a major role to play alongside government and entrepreneurs to foster further success.”

Energy secretary Ed Davey added in a statement: “The low carbon sector is central to the government’s efforts to build a new economy, boost exports and meet our responsibilities to the next generation on climate change,”