A start-up incubator has been launched to harness the skills of furloughed workers in the energy sector for low-carbon projects.

Spinning Reserve has been created by Rosa Stewart, the head of external affairs for SSE Energy – now part of Ovo Group.

The initial aims of the project are to link furloughed and unemployed workers in the sector with existing start-ups who are seeking collaborators.

Stewart told Utility Week she would then like to facilitate innovation within the newly formed groups to create their own projects and source funding.

She said she had already received positive feedback from major energy companies who expressed a willingness to be involved in terms of coaching, sponsorship and investment.

Stewart estimates there are currently 12,000 furloughed energy sector workers and she was concerned about the potential impacts on their collective mental health. Just as power stations can be called on to provide extra capacity, she said there was a wealth of talent waiting to be called upon to allow low-carbon projects to flourish.

She told Utility Week: “There are thousands of energy workers out there who are either on furlough or have sadly lost their jobs but have years of experience and vital expertise. At the same time, we have a huge challenge in reaching net zero, with so many start-ups out there who have the innovation and the drive but need help to realise their visions.

“The plan was pulled together in a couple of weeks and when I posted it on my LinkedIn page I had an amazing response – from people wanting to offer mentoring, those interested in participating and some really exciting SMEs who are in need of particular skills.

“The first phase is to match existing low-carbon start-ups with the talent they need. Then hopefully we can move on to creating new businesses and different types of projects from scratch based on the people we have willing to get involved and their expertise.”

A website is currently being developed by Sims Creative at www.spinningreserve.org but potential supporters or participants in the scheme can email rosa.stewart@spinningreserve.org

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