Monday, May 29, 2023 | 04:28 am

Meetings to Discuss the Technologies of the Ceramics Industry

Meetings to Discuss the Technologies of the Ceramics Industry

Meetings with ministers will take place to see what extra support may be offered to develop ceramic technologies and protect pottery industry jobs.

The sector in Staffordshire, which has dealt with the rising price of energy, has been investing in new technology to improve efficiency.

Some firms are also looking at ways to reuse some of the heat from energy-intensive kilns.

The government said it was aware of the problems faced by the sector.

The ceramics industry has invested in research and development and spent £600m on improving energy efficiency.

Lee Brownsword, from the British Ceramic Confederation, which lobbies on the sector’s behalf, said: “We don’t want to see jobs being offshored to other countries.

“We need them here in the UK. These are high-quality jobs and products that we’re making and [they’re] critical to our net-zero transition.”

Meetings with ministers will be held in the next few weeks.

The industry, which relies on energy-intensive processes, contributes £2bn to the UK economy.

Portmeirion Group’s tunnel kilns in Stoke-on-Trent produce a huge amount of heat and the firm has been looking at how that can be used more efficiently.

Chief executive Mike Raybould said some of it was being used to heat up the factories and workspaces themselves.

“Also we’re using it to warm up our products, our bowls, our cups, our plates before they go into the kiln,” he said.

“So we’re raising their temperature before they actually enter the tunnel kiln and that means we can lower the temperature and the energy usage in the kilns as well.”

Burslem firm Therser UK, which makes kilns and furnaces, has developed a test hydrogen kiln with government support.

Group sales director Matthew Pound said: “We have to provide our customers with more efficient ways of manufacturing, greener ways of manufacturing, allowing our customers to reduce their carbon footprint, which is the goal going forward.”

During a parliamentary exchange earlier this month, Nusrat Ghani, minister for industry and investment security, said the government had provided households and businesses with billions of pounds of support and gave assurances that “we want to keep the kilns firing as well”.

She explained that under the forthcoming Energy Bill Discount Scheme, businesses in energy-intensive industries would be able to apply for a higher level of support, with talks taking place over the details of how this will work.

Ms. Ghani also said the government had asked Ofgem to look at concerns that energy suppliers were not passing on cost savings to customers in the ceramic industry.