Zero Carbon Futures is set to deliver a growth in low carbon vehicle production

Published:  03 January, 2012

Gateshead College has established a new company; Zero Carbon Futures, to deliver a range of local and national programmes all geared up to advance the region as a European leader in the production of low carbon vehicles. This follows the College's £6.2m Regional Growth Fund bid to create 5,000 jobs over the next decade, including 1,500 apprenticeships in the low carbon vehicle sector.

Through the previous work led by One North East, the region is recognised as a UK leader in the emerging green vehicle sector. With the closure of the regional development agency now imminent, Gateshead College will take over some of the responsibility for driving the North East's low carbon vehicle agenda. Zero Carbon Futures will work in partnership with the new Local Enterprise Partnerships and a range of local stakeholders.

Mick Brophy, Managing Director of Business, Development and Innovation at Gateshead College, said: “Gateshead College is renowned globally as a leading provider of training and skills for the low carbon vehicle industry.

“The creation of Zero Carbon Futures will ensure that the North East also remains at the forefront in the development and manufacture of all-electric and low carbon vehicles, along with providing the training and skills needed for this new industry's workforce.”

The company opened for business on Thursday (Dec 1st) and is based in Gateshead College's new £10m Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing and Innovation (SASMI), in Washington, Tyne & Wear.

Part of its remit is to oversee the conversion of the former Nissan test track adjacent to SASMI, into the North of England's first Performance Track. The creation of this track is the last element in a comprehensive offering in the region for the low carbon vehicle sector. North East England is home to the Nissan LEAF production facility and battery assembly plant. Gateshead College provides training and learning in all key areas of the sector and the region is a leader in the Government's Plugged in Places programme of installing public access electric vehicle (EV) charging posts.

Alongside Zero Carbon Futures is also the transfer of the Plugged in Places project from One North East to Gateshead College. The project, named Charge Your Car, aims to install over 1,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points across the region by 2013. This intends to encourage adoption of EVs and capture data on how early adopters use and charge their vehicles.

Zero Carbon Futures is led by Dr Colin Herron who is a Visiting Professor of Engineering at Sunderland University and was a key member of the RDA's low carbon vehicle team.

Dr Herron said: “One North East helped the region take huge strides in the development of a thriving low carbon vehicle economy. Zero Carbon Futures and the Charge your Car project will build on this success and firmly cement North East England's growing reputation in this sector as the place to do business.”

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