Simon Smith, Partner in the Corporate Team at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, comments on how collaboration will play an increasingly important role in green energy developments.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article about collaboration in business transactions, focusing on key areas such as integrity, vision, effectiveness and learning. Over 13 years in practice, I have acted for a broad spectrum of clients across different sectors and on a wide range of corporate matters. In recent years, I have noticed that more and more clients are seeking advice on collaborative projects (be that joint ventures or partnership agreements). This is particularly the case in the context of infrastructure and development projects.
The building of Hinkley Point C (HPC), the nuclear power station under construction in Somerset, is a good example of a project for which collaboration is fundamental to the success of the build. Many joint ventures, partnerships and consortia have been established to provide support services, groundworks, civil and mechanical, electrical and HVAC work for the project. We at Clarke Willmott have had the privilege of acting for the successful Somerset Passenger Solutions joint venture and the HOST consortia over the last six years and have seen how they have progressed in providing a first-class service.
As a result of our increasing involvement with HPC and renewable energy projects, I have been taking a closer interest in green energy development. Over the last 12 months, low carbon energy has become a cornerstone of the Government’s plan for growth and the foundations for a Green Industrial Revolution; culminating in the publication of the Energy White Paper and recent announcements in the Budget on 3 March 2021.
It is increasingly clear that new green energy generation projects will have to be multi-layered with different technologies and multiple partners needing to work together to achieve the net zero targets that have been set.
A good example of such a project is Shearwater Energy Ltd’s proposal to build a hybrid power station in North Wales. Working in partnership with NuScale Power, their aim is to create a combined nuclear and offshore wind power plant, also producing hydrogen gas for the transport sector, which could be in operation by the end of the decade. Similarly, a number of the successful bids for the eight new Freeports in England (announced in the recent Budget) had a combined green energy element in their proposals (for instance, offshore wind and hydrogen).
Working in partnership at both a client and contractor level has become ever more integral to the success of infrastructure projects (including new green energy builds), with the supply chain behind these projects becoming increasingly embedded. The saying “a chain is only as strong as the weakest link” is so true in the context of a supply chain, and what helps to form those strong chains are when client and supplier share the same values, with transparency and honesty key elements. I expect that those organisations which collaborate effectively and that share these fundamental values, will be amongst the winners in future green energy generation projects.