By Dr Iain Percy OBE, CEO, Artemis Technologies
The new shipbuilding strategy has some huge positives for the maritime sector and companies like our own as we seek to lead the decarbonisation of the industry, not least the establishment of UK SHORE and the pledge of £206m to support the transition to net zero.
If we are to transition to net zero, and maritime plays its part, it is vital there is investment in both R&D and infrastructure projects. Alternative forms of transport like car and rail have been subsidised by public provision of roads and tracks.
Maritime can increasingly be part of the multimodal solution for decarbonising not only the movement of goods but also public transport in our cities, and lifeline services in our coastal communities. To make this happen UK SHORE must match the commitment shown in road and railways with a nationwide roll out of zero emission vessels and related infrastructure.
Commitment to long term procurement is critical for the UK shipbuilding and UK maritime technology businesses like Artemis Technologies, and a steady long-term commitment of public procurement is welcomed.
Key for private sector growth is a joined-up approach between export finance and UK-based finance so that world class products made in the UK are not out-competed by finance support from competitor countries.
The shipbuilding strategy made reference to this more joined up approach with the announcement of the Home Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme (HSCGS). This is welcome, but we need more detail of how it will operate ahead of its anticipated launch in May, with its terms and conditions mirroring wherever possible those provided by UKEF.
Artemis Technologies has a long-term supply strategy to keep all key technology manufacturing on UK shores. The key to achieving this is developing technologies that require high level skills and investment. That way, high value manufacturing jobs can be secured whilst still having a profitable product.
Coupled with the world leading maritime financial services that will be involved in any export sale, we are confident the UK export finance structure encourages the appropriate level of UK content; It is critical that this balance is maintained through any other schemes such as HSCGS.
We would be keen to see the updates in sales finance support for UK maritime to be for all maritime technology.
Further, it is critical that finance guarantees for zero emission products are for longer term and at lower rates to support the marriage of significant lower total costs over the life of a vessel and the initial higher capital expenditure required for green technologies.
This will mean the UK can be a true leader in the fast growing and important green maritime technology sector.