Specialist engineering business Spencer Group is a home-grown success story at the forefront of the Humber’s emergence as the UK’s centre of renewable energy.
The entrepreneurial company, founded in Hull in 1989 with just two employees, has grown rapidly and now has a £150m turnover and a workforce of more than 400 across the UK.
Spencer Group is based at the prestigious One Humber Quays waterfront office block in Hull, which the company acquired in 2011, underlining its confidence in the region. Spencer also has local premises in Barrow upon Humber as well as offices in London and Glasgow.
Spencer Group delivers innovative engineering solutions across the Rail Depot and Stations, Materials Handling, Energy and Special Projects sectors from initial design concepts through to construction, and specialises in logistically complex schemes.
The company has substantial renewable energy activities and exceptional green credentials. Previous flagship renewable energy projects have included designing and building a biomass reception, handling and storage facility at Drax and a biomass rail-loading facility at the Port of Tyne, then the first of its kind in the world.
Spencer Group is ahead of schedule in developing Energy Works, an environment-friendly power plant on a 12-acre site on the east bank of the River Hull. It will be the first facility of its kind in the UK, using a combination of innovative renewable energy technologies that produce the most favourable results in terms of recycling and air quality.
The project is the largest privately funded power station of its type and will produce enough electricity to power 43,000 homes, by processing 240,000 tonnes of waste a year. Energy Works, which went live in 2018, was the brainchild of Charlie Spencer, who wanted to deliver renewable energy to Hull and to provide job opportunities to people in the city.
The project has been awarded a grant of almost £20 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in recognition of the role it can play in encouraging further innovation in this field. In addition, private investors from around the world have funded the project with a £200m contribution.
A key component of the scheme is a partnership with the University of Hull to create an Energy Academy on the site which will support two PhD students for postgraduate study of renewable energy. An educational resource centre will also promote the importance of sustainable and renewable electricity generation.
Spencer Group Chairman and founder Charlie Spencer said: “Hull is fantastic place to do business, but it is also the right place for us to invest because of the huge potential for the Humber region to become the UK’s renewable energy hub.
“Energy Works will complement the development of other renewable energy activities. It will also help to build a critical mass of skills and expertise in sustainable technologies to give the region a competitive edge.”
Spencer Group is at the heart of Hull’s plans to create a leading University Technical College (UTC) for the region. The Ron Dearing UTC, which opened in September 2017, will help meet a growing need to train young people with technical and engineering skills in Hull. Spencer Group has championed the project from the very beginning, has given the UTC financial backing, and encouraged businesses from across the region to get involved.
Spencer Group has designed and built landmark structures across the UK, including the York Millennium Footbridge and Glasgow Science Bridge. The company has also delivered a number of prestigious local projects, including remodelling Hull’s Paragon Station, Neville Hill Rail Depot enhancements, two new stations on the Leeds-Bradford line at Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge and protecting the cables on the Humber Bridge from corrosion.
The Humber Bridge project involved the use of a unique “Cable Crawler” gantry system which has made Spencer Group a world leader in high-level bridge works. Spencer has used the system to enable vital dehumidification work to prevent corrosion of cables on the Severn, Forth Road and Humber suspension bridges, as well as the Alvsborg Bridge in Sweden and the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark – the world’s largest retro-fit cable dehumidification project.