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Offshore Wind and Supply Chain Conference 2013

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

I was given a great opportunity at the end of January to attend Scottish Renewables’ Offshore Wind and Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition, which was held in Aberdeen on January 29th and 30th.  This was an exciting and interesting event where I had the chance to attend a number of the conference sessions and meet many of the key people involved in the industry.  This year’s conference marked the fifth year that the conference has been held and proved to be the biggest yet, with attendance numbers totalling between 800 and 900 people. 

One of the key outcomes of the conference, in my opinion, was the announcement by First Minister Alex Salmond in his keynote speech on the Tuesday morning, that HIE has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with four of the Highlands leading ports to support the development of the offshore renewables sector.  MoUs have been agreed with Global Energy Nigg, Port of Ardersier Ltd, Kishorn Port Ltd and Cromarty Firth Port Authority, all of which have a long history in servicing the oil and gas sector.  Many of the skills and expertise these companies use in the oil and gas sector can be adapted and transferred to the offshore renewables sector.


Iain’s second blog

Friday, December 14th, 2012

This is my second blog entry since joining the Energy and Low Carbon team on my graduate placement at Highlands and Islands Enterprise. (more…)

The Saltire Prize – a challenge worth winning

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Neil Kermode, Managing Director of EMEC and Deputy Chair of the Saltire Prize Challenge Committee, explains why the Saltire Prize is so significant for the marine renewable energy industry.

The launch of the official Saltire Prize challenge period by the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shows yet again the welcome determination by Scotland to make marine renewables a daily reality.

The Saltire Prize challenge is a serious competition. It seeks to force the pace of the development of wave and tidal energy by offering a substantial prize of £10m to the first team to generate 100GWh of electricity from Scottish waters over two years. And 100GWh is a big ask at the moment. That requires a 30MW farm of wave or tidal devices to be installed and run continuously for the two years. (more…)

Successful launch of Scotland’s 1st Marine Energy Park

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Having just returned from a busy two day trip to Caithness and Orkney, to support  the launch of Scotland’s first Marine Energy Park and join the UK Marine Energy Programme Board, I have yet again been reminded of how privileged I am to be involved in the development of the marine energy industry. 

Yes, a huge amount of work goes in to the planning and execution of such events, as my colleague Norma Hogan (Senior Development Manager: Wave and Tidal Energy), along with friends and colleagues in Orkney, Caithness, Glasgow and London know only too well, but this effort is worth its weight in gold – not least in terms of the additional media coverage our region and the industry secured;  the very public affirmation of both the Scottish and UK Energy Ministers’ support for the industry; and (we hope)  further building of confidence among local businesses of the opportunities this new industry will bring, but the Marine Energy Park launch and the UK Marine Energy Programme Board also provided the opportunity for us to spend quality time with some of the nation’s leading innovators in marine energy.  You can’t help but be energised by their enthusiasm, commitment and belief in the future of this industry, and excited by their commitment to the far north of Scotland.

This may be Gold Wednesday for Team GB but we are now in a strong position to build on our current, undisputed world leading position on marine energy, and work together to ensure that the building blocks are firmly in place to win the substantial prizes from marine energy over the next decade and beyond. 


Exciting times for renewables sector

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks in the renewables sector in Scotland with some big announcements making the headlines, with the promise of lots more to come for this industry.
Firstly we saw the First Minister launch the new Nigg Skills Academy in Ross-shire.  This is a brilliant new development for the energy sector in the Highlands and Islands and has been broadly welcomed by the industry as a whole.  With funding support from Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and HIE totalling £915,000, the Academy hopes to have 290 Modern Apprentices through its doors in the first year of operation.  These apprentices are going to be very valuable to the industry in the coming years, with over 3,000 people expected to have completed training by 2015.
The Skills Academy has seen over 800 applications already, for an initial intake of 23 apprentices.  This is testament to how appealing the sector is to people looking for new and exciting opportunities, and with the industry growing so rapidly, it’s great to see this level of appetite.
Since Global Energy Group took over the Nigg Yard in 2011, they have identified a demand for up to 2,000 people over the next few years to help them to deliver contracts in the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors.  The yard has already taken on a new lease of life, with the dry dock back in action and home for the next 3 months to Transocean’s Galaxy 1 rig.  The major refit will employ more than 250 people and is a big boost to the area, as had it not been for the dry dock, the work would have ended up elsewhere.

Energy North Awards highlight the region’s expertise

Monday, October 24th, 2011

It was a real pleasure to be hosting Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s table at the inaugural Energy North awards on Thursday 29th September, not least due to the very pleasant company of our guests – you know who you are!  The event really showcased the talent, expertise and leading business capabilities of our region and further served to illustrate the exciting energy opportunities this region offers our people, businesses and economy.  Our congratulations go to all the deserving award winners and indeed to all those shortlisted. For the details of the winners visit the Energy North website

I was particularly struck by the fact that these awards celebrated success across the energy industry, with many of the categories equally relevant to oil and gas and to the renewables sector e.g “Best Subsea Service”, “Best Service Supply”, “Best Export”, “Best Pioneer” and finally the HIE-sponsored Ambassador Award. It is often cited that there is competition between these sectors, but these awards clearly demonstrated that there is already substantial evidence of the two sectors complementing each other and combining to make even more competitive businesses in the Highlands and Islands.  We must ensure that such synergy continues to grow as we capitalise upon the projected continued growth in oil and gas activity, and on Scotland’s ambitious renewable energy targets – in both of which this area has considerable competitive and comparative advantage.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate the Energy North team for pulling these successful awards together, and providing an excellent platform for the promotion of the region’s rich energy assets. Good luck to them and the entrants of the 2012 Energy North Awards. 

The 3rd Marine Energy Conference

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The Scottish Renewables 3rd Marine Energy conference last week in Inverness – sponsored by Highlands and Islands – was one of the most vibrant and exiciting wave and tidal events I’ve been at in the past few years. I was delighted to be asked to give an opening keynote. Here it is in full. (more…)

Thirty five years on……….

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

When I mention to friends, family and neighbors that the Highlands and Islands is leading the world in the development of a whole new energy industry, they tend to look at best quizzical, and at worst disbelieving. I like to remind them that in 1976 Dores bay in Loch Ness was the test bed for Scotland’s first wave device, Stephen Salter’s Nodding Duck. The fate of that technology was contentious, shelved some say as a result of closed door meetings in Whitehall and secret memos from rival technologies.   (more…)

All-Energy 2011

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
All Energy 2011

All-Energy 2011

All-Energy 2011. Well now that the dust has settled, business cards filed, follow up emails and phone calls scheduled, it’s interesting to reflect on one of the largest renewable energy events. It was the biggest ever for Highlands and Islands companies, biggest ever for HIE, and from a quick initial review of business impacts, big for renewables business.

The thing that struck me walking through the door on the first morning was ties. Neck ties. Unlike almost all other renewable energy events I’ve ever attended, the overwhelming dress code was dark suit and tie. It was almost like walking into an accountants’ convention. Long gone are the days when All-Energy was the domain of Aberdeenshire farmers in tweed jackets, and earnest young men with long hair and corduroy trousers. Renewable energy is now mainstream, it’s big business, it’s international, and Scotland is at the forefront. Canada, the Basque Country, Austria, all had huge stands, as did almost all the UK’s major energy players. (Continued after the video)