“If we can export from the most northerly island in the UK, anyone can.”, Pure Energy shares their exporting journey.
The Pure Energy Centre (PEC), based in Shetland on the northernmost island of Unst, was set up in 2006 with skills and expertise from the Pure Project, to specialise in clean energy technologies and energy storage. The business now works with an international team, with a growing portfolio of projects. Its secret weapon is good communications – wherever the team is working in the world, everyone keeps in touch.
Exporting was a logical progression for PEC because the UK simply doesn’t provide a big enough market. In its 12 years, the business has won contracts across Europe and Asia, in the Nordic regions, South Africa and North Africa. It’s now installing its own designed and manufactured hydrogen refuelling station in South America.
“Exporting has allowed us to open up new markets,” says Elizabeth Johnson, “and it now accounts for 80% of our work.”
Setting out to export is an expensive process, and doesn’t just happen overnight. One client visit overseas is unlikely to clinch a contract; forging strong relationships and building trust in the product and the team is essential when working across great distances.
However, the company’s biggest challenge turned out to be shipping and transport. “The equipment is quite large,” Elizabeth says, “and carriers need an understanding of what they are handling.” Again, the solution lay in building relationships with the supply chain, and educating shippers to the business’s needs.
HIE has been involved with PEC from the very beginning, and the business has been account managed for several years. HIE has provided export training, given support to attend a water exhibition in Singapore and a hydrogen conference in South America, as well as SDI trade missions and learning journeys, which are critical for the company as it develops working relationships overseas.
What advice would you give to people thinking about exporting?
“If you’re thinking about exporting, don’t be afraid,” says Elizabeth. “Just go and ask HIE for advice and help, and listen to what others have done. Exporting can be a bit daunting, and it’s expensive – there’s no way around that – but if you accept risk as part of the way things are, it’ll pay dividends.”